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Under-fire Care at Home Services wins contract with Kent County Council despite poor inspection

By Gazette reporter

A care group for the elderly given a damning inspection report just four months ago has secured a lucrative contract with Kent County Council.

Care at Home Services (South East) is one of several service providers awarded deals to support elderly and vulnerable people in the Canterbury district.

Its Herne Bay branch, which will supply the service, fell short of regulatory standards on seven out of eight inspection points in its Care Quality Commission report.

A nurse helping a disabled woman. Library picture

Among their scathing conclusions, commission inspectors found the branch was failing to safeguard clients from abuse and failing to manage medicine properly.

Despite the report – which is accessible in a matter of seconds on the internet – KCC has picked the group to deliver care in the Canterbury district.

Boasting of a "rigorous tender process", KCC claimed winning bidders demonstrated they could provide "best quality care and value for money".

Challenged over the decision, KCC claims that - despite being awarded the contract - Care at Home Services (South East) will not be given any work until it can show improvements.

A KCC spokesman said bidders were screened by external auditors applying various criteria including safeguarding safety, suitability of management and staffing and treatment provided.

The spokesman said: "All providers who were awarded contracts met these criteria.

"Care at Home (South East) successfully tendered for the contract and therefore will be awarded a contract, in accordance with the tender process.

"Sanctions have been applied to this provider which means no business will be placed with them until they can assure us of the quality of their care. These sanctions will remain in place until we are confident that issues have been satisfactorily rectified."

Care at Home Services is based at Kent Enterprise House in Herne Bay

Care at Home Services (South East) is based at Kent Enterprise House in The Links, Herne Bay. The commission carried out unannounced inspections in October and November last year, publishing its findings in December.

Among its judgments, the commission said: "People who used the service were not protected from the risk of abuse because the provider had not taken reasonable steps to identify the possibility of abuse and prevent abuse from happening.

"People were not protected against the risks associated with medicines because the provider had not ensured appropriate arrangements were in place to manage medicines."

"People who used the service were not protected from the risk of abuse because the provider had not taken reasonable steps to identify the possibility of abuse and prevent abuse from happening..." - Care Quality Commission report

The commission found the Herne Bay group's failures could have a moderate impact on clients, defined as a "significant effect on their health, safety or welfare".

Standards set by the commission in its inspections are set according to law laid down in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010. Care groups have a legal responsibility to abide by these regulations.

Other failings highlighted in the report included inadequate staff training and supervision.

The report said: "People were cared for by staff who were not fully supported to deliver care and treatment safely and to an appropriate standard."

Again, commission inspectors found such failings could have a moderate impact on clients and urged for improvements to be made. The report found clients' personal records – including medical records – were not being properly maintained.

It also found the provider "did not have an effective system in place to identify, assess and manage risks to health, safety and welfare of people who use the service and others".

Care at Home Services (South East) is based in Bexhill, East Sussex. Neither its Herne Bay branch nor its head office chose to comment on the reports.

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