An Ellesmere Port care home has been placed in special measures by the powerful Care Quality Commission (CQC) watchdog.
The finding was reached after an unannounced inspection of Atherton Lodge on Pooltown Road to protect people using the home which was found to be ‘inadequate’ in August this year.
The privately owned two-storey detached property has been converted and extended into a care home which is registered to provide accommodation for up to 40 older people who require personal and nursing care.
At the time of the inspection there were 40 people living there.
The responsible person for the care home, run by Worcestershire based P A R Nursing Homes Ltd, is director Satwinder Singh Pawar.
Overall Atherton Lodge has been found to be ‘inadequate’ in each aspect and has been rated as ‘inadequate’ overall.
Debbie Westhead, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care in the north, said: “People are entitled to services which provide safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care.
“We found the care provided by Atherton Lodge fell a very long way short of what we expect services to provide, which is why we have intervened to keep people using this service safe.”
She continued: “We were very concerned that vulnerable people using this service were not being kept from actual or potential harm. We found that their basic physical, medical, emotional and mental needs were not being met.
“Atherton Lodge also advertised themselves as able to care for people living with dementia. However we found that the accommodation, adaptations, stimulation and specialised support was not in place to support people with these health conditions.
“People were left unattended, skilled staff were not always on duty, medicines weren’t always given to the right people at the right time and people did not have a choice of nutritious meals and drinks.
“This simply isn’t good enough and we are now considering the appropriate enforcement action to the breaches in regulation we found at Atherton Lodge.”
Inspectors found that staff did not always recognise safeguarding incidents and action was not always taken to ensure that people were kept safe or to prevent such an incident from happening again.
The recording system was poor and incidents were rarely followed up to ensure people’s safety or improve their care.
CQC saw insufficient levels of staff available to meet people’s needs with many of the lounge areas often left unattended.
Atherton Lodge failed to demonstrate to inspectors how they knew that the right number of skilled and experienced staff were available at all times to meet the needs of the people who used the service.
It was also ‘very worrying’ how unsafe the management of medicines remained at the home despite CQC telling them to improve in this area at a previous inspection.
People did not get the medicines that they required as medicines were not always available.
Inspectors also found it ‘concerning’ that the medicines room was left unattended and that medication which was signed for as given was found on the floor or tables.
At the time of the inspection, the CQC said the service provided support to some adults who were under 65 and others with a functional mental illness which is not in accordance with the home’s statement of purpose.
Staff at the home did not have the skills and knowledge to support these individuals.
The home also set out to provide support to people living with dementia who require personal or nursing needs and also people with sensory impairment.
“We found that the accommodation, adaptations, stimulation and specialised support was not in place to support people with these health conditions which meant that staff could not meet people’s needs,” says the CQC.
The watchdog reveals it had been made aware ‘of a number of significant safeguarding concerns’ by the local authority.
A lengthy detailed report says that at the time of the inspection there was no registered manager in place and there had not been one since February 2015.
Following an inspection in November 2015 a number of improvements had been required but these legal requirements had not been met and there had been ‘further significant breaches’.
Actions now required will be published later.
Atherton Lodge is to be kept under review and, if needed, this could be escalated to urgent enforcement action according to the CQC.
Where necessary another inspection will be carried out within a further six months and if there is not sufficient improvement it will take action to prevent the provider from operating the home.
If the service has demonstrated improvements when it is inspected and it is no longer rated as inadequate for any of the ‘five key questions’ it will no longer be subject to special measures.
Mr Pawar said: “We are committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of the residents who trust us to care for them in their later years.
“Since being alerted of potential shortfalls in our services, we have invested heavily in the implementation of new policies and procedures throughout the home as well as the training of our staff to further improve on the quality of the care we provide.
“With the help of a specialist care consultant, we have made significant changes in the way in which we will operate to benefit the people under our care. We have appointed an experienced acting manager and clinical lead nurse recently.
“The management and all staff at Atherton are fully committed to improving the service.”