A whistleblower was unfairly sacked because she raised the alarm on a ‘failing’ Chester care home’s poor standards.
Kaley Sweetman won an employment tribunal case against Orchard Manor in Upton.
The experienced carer flagged up her concerns first to bosses and then to the Care Quality Commission.
She was told she failed her probation period days later.
A tribunal panel ruled emphatically in Ms Sweetman’s favour for unfair dismissal.
In a verdict, they said: “The tribunal has no hesitation in drawing an inference from all it has heard and seen the decision to dismiss the claimant (Ms Sweetman), or as she would put it ‘to end her probation’, was wholly and directly related to the reports the claimant had made to the CQC.”
Ms Sweetman raised her concerns to the home’s manager in September 2016.
She showed them how Orchard Manor ‘had failed, was failing and was likely to fail’ to keep its residents safe.
After her complaints were brushed aside, the carer sent a report to the CQC which detailed the lack of staff on duty during the night. Other members of staff at Orchard Manor shared similar concerns.
The tribunal panel said: “The claimant reasonably believed the respondent was falling short in its care of residents because of a perceived insufficiency of staff, particularly during night shifts.
“The claimant understood there should be available to the residents two or three members of staff at all times because of the number of residents and their needs, but the staffing levels were regularly too low.”
Orchard Manor was rated ‘inadequate’ after an unannounced CQC inspection in November 2016.
The employment tribunal verdict was passed on May 23.
The home's owners Fordent Properties said its complaints process was being reviewed.
A spokesman said: “We take our duty of care to residents and staff very seriously, and are disappointed that on this occasion we have fallen short of our own high-standards.
“We respect and accept the outcome of the tribunal, and we have learnt from this experience and are moving forward positively for the future.
“We have new management within the home, and our existing robust complaints and whistleblowing process is being reviewed.
“We will also remind all residents, relatives and staff members about how they can raise issues directly to the home manager, senior management team, or to the appropriate external organisations.”