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Choking death at Canterbury care home The Chase sparks inspection

The death of a care home resident sparked a police investigation and led to a watchdog inspection which found other people were “at risk of injury”.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited The Chase in Ethelbert Road, Canterbury, after a man died from choking in an incident now subject to a criminal probe.

The Chase has been told to improve by inspectors
The Chase has been told to improve by inspectors

Inspectors have now rated the home inadequate - the lowest possible grading - and placed it in special measures after discovering new and continued breaches.

The home had been ordered to improve following three previous inspections, but during the most recent a staff member said they had “pretty much given up” because the building was “rundown” and changes had not been made.

The manager, however, has blasted the CQC findings as “false information” and called on people to “not believe everything you read”.

The unannounced inspection in August discovered people were wearing torn clothes, areas of the home had a “strong odour of urine” and private information was not always kept confidential.

It was launched following the death of a man in his 70s on August 11 - an incident which left staff “distressed”.

The CQC received information the death highlighted concerns about the “management of choking”.

Inspectors found one person was at risk of choking when eating and needed to be monitored, but they were left alone with their food for 15 minutes after their lunch was served - which put them in danger.

None of the staff - including the manager - knew about another resident who was at risk of choking and needed to be closely monitored when eating because they had a serious medical condition that increased the risk of bleeding in their throat.

One staff member told inspectors: “I’ve pretty much given up here. The staff want to do a good job and how can we in these circumstances? A rundown building, no communication in the senior staff team and no changes being made.”

The inspection found areas of the home smelled strongly of urine, and bedrooms were not “properly cleaned” when people left the service.

'I’ve pretty much given up here. The staff want to do a good job and how can we in these circumstances? A rundown building, no communication in the senior staff team and no changes being made...' - a staff member

The carpets in communal areas and in some bedrooms were heavily stained. In some places the carpets were so dirty they were black in colour and “stuck to the inspectors’ shoes”.

Some residents who needed support to maintain their personal appearance had not been assisted to wear clean clothes.

One resident’s medicines were “given covertly” by grinding them up and placing them in their food. Despite staff telling inspectors they had agreed this with the GP, there were no records to support this.

Private information was “not always kept confidential” and there were examples of staff discussing people’s care needs in ways likely to be heard by others living in the home.

Manager Janet Spree said the care home has been given “bad press” over the years and objects to the inspectors’ comments.

“We have challenged [the report],” she said. “A lot of it was false information - they didn’t look at anything in the home. They came in and were here for a day-and-a-half.

“We have asked them to reinspect and we haven’t heard anything.

“They came here with their mind made up. There is a lot of building work going on and that is one of the reasons it is inadequate because it is in the process of being done.

“A double extension is being built. That should have all been finished but it should be completed by February.

“Don’t believe everything you read because we challenged the report and they admitted their failings on their inspection, but have not changed the overcome.”

Head of inspection for adult social care in the south east James Frewin says CQC inspectors assess the quality of care and establish if a home is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

“All inspection reports are subject to rigorous internal quality assurance processes and providers have the opportunity to check on factual accuracy prior to publication,” he said.

“Where we identify there are concerns about quality or factual accuracy we will respond accordingly.

“The inspection follows a consistent and systematic process while our focus is on the experience of people using the service and how the provider continually improves the service to meet people’s specific needs.”

The CQC will reinspect the home in six months to check for improvements. But if there is still an inadequate rating for any key question or overall, it will begin the process of preventing the provider from operating.

Police say enquiries into the death of the resident are ongoing.

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