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More than half of care homes in Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and Faversham failing

By Marijke Hall

More than half of care homes inspected across the Canterbury district and Faversham in 2018 were ruled unsafe or in need of improvement, a Kentish Gazette investigation has found.

Damning figures reveal 53% of those visited by government inspectors are failing to hit expected standards, sparking calls for an urgent review.

Most of the homes care for vulnerable and elderly people - many of them with dementia - but were found by the Care Quality Commission to be offering a sub-standard service in often terrible conditions.

More than half of care homes are failing
More than half of care homes are failing

A catalogue of safety concerns was raised, with managers being ordered to make urgent improvements.

In all, 36 homes were inspected in 12 months, with not one earning an ‘outstanding’ rating - the highest of four gradings.

Just 17 were given a ‘good’ rating, while 18 were rated ‘requires improvement’ and one given the lowest grading of ‘inadequate’.

The risk factors identified included the use of out-of-date medical equipment, carpets so filthy people’s feet stuck to them, a lack of support for residents’ dignity and foul-smelling furniture.

Inspectors also found staff with outdated training, lacklustre management, and family members with so little confidence in the care provided that they stayed throughout the night with their loved ones.

Saxon Lodge Care Home in Bridge (5477602)
Saxon Lodge Care Home in Bridge (5477602)

Neil Brown, the chief officer at Canterbury Age UK, has called for an immediate review into the findings, and says failing homes should be inspected more regularly.

“There needs to be an urgent review as there are a number of homes falling below the required benchmark,” he said.

“The CQC should be regularly and rapidly reviewing those care homes.

“I’m quite shocked to to see that there are so many which need to improve - the CQC should be shortening the gaps between inspections; there should be a very fast increase in looking at these type of homes.

“Families of clients put their faith in the governing body to monitor and resolve issues but there seems to be a shortfall there. This needs to be urgently addressed.”

Neil Brown, Age UK
Neil Brown, Age UK

The most damning inspection was carried out at Saxon Lodge in Bridge, which is the only home in the district to be rated ‘inadequate’.

During an unannounced visit in August, inspectors reported a raft of failures and placed the home into special measures, meaning if not enough improvement is made within six months, enforcement proceedings will begin to prevent the manager and director of the home from operating the service.

Saxon Lodge manager Christine McArthur admits they were disappointed with the findings and are working closely with the CQC, the local authority and an outside consultant to move the home forward.

“We continue to be committed to improving standards and to providing a safe and caring home for our residents,” she added.

The below-standard care homes across Faversham and the Canterbury district (6530189)
The below-standard care homes across Faversham and the Canterbury district (6530189)

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield says care home managers should take a bigger responsibility for their staff.

She said: “It is very disappointing that some many care homes in our area are being ruled unsafe or in need of improvements.

“Overall, the standard of social care in England is a national scandal and something Labour is taking very seriously: owners and managers of care homes need to be held personally responsible more often and more training and higher wages for care home staff would increase standards within care homes.”

According to the CQC, challenges faced in adult social care include recruiting and retaining care workers and nursing staff which affects standards.

Rosie Duffield MP
Rosie Duffield MP

The care watchdog says leadership also plays a crucial role.

“The quality of management, at all levels, is a key factor in whether the service performs well or poorly and whether it can improve from a less than good rating,” a spokesman said.

“The loss of a skilled and knowledgeable manager can have a serious detrimental effect on how well a service runs and the quality of care provided.

“Equally, a change in leadership can be a springboard for improvement.”

What do you think? Comment below or email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk.

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