Staffing issues see care service's ranking drop

Silkstone House, Pioneer Close, Manvers (pic by Kerrie Beddows)Silkstone House, Pioneer Close, Manvers (pic by Kerrie Beddows)
Silkstone House, Pioneer Close, Manvers (pic by Kerrie Beddows)
DIRECTORS of a home care service stripped of its ‘good’ rating by a health watchdog due to staffing issues say they are “extremely disappointed” and highlighted challenges caused by a national carers shortage and the pandemic.

The Care Quality Commission downgraded Lotus Home Care Rotherham to ‘requires improvement’ following its announced visit after receiving concerns including quality and safety of care and missed and late visits.

The Wath-based service was providing personal care to 93 people living in their own homes at the time, including older and younger adults, people living with dementia, people with a physical disability, and those with a learning disability.Following the May visit, the service was rated “requires improvement” in the categories of ‘safe’ and ‘well-led’.

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For areas not inspected, the commission used ratings from the previous August 2018 inspection – all ‘good’ – to calculate the overall ranking.The CQC spoke with employees including the manager, directors, and two staff at Manvers and Silkstone House and, after the visit, three staff by phone and received written feedback from a further three.It also spoke with seven service users and four relatives by telephone.

The watchdog noted a “challenging period in staff recruitment, retention as well as Covid-19-related staff sickness”, leading to some visits being later or earlier than planned.Feedback was “mixed”, with one person saying staff were “more or less on time” whereas others had experienced “very early and late calls”.

Lotus said due to staffing challenges, people were “prioritised on the basis of risk” and support from another branch office was arranged.

Delays were, in part, due to staff travelling from outside the area, as well as local employees attending extra calls.The CQC said it was “clear” management was “working hard to address these shortfalls”, with successful recruitment as well as “call times stabilising, and better staff consistency”, although the improvements needed to be “consolidated”.

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A spokesperson for Lotus Home Care’s board of directors said: “We are extremely disappointed with these ratings as we feel this does not accurately reflect the quality of the service.

“The team has overcome significant challenges in relation to staffing levels which has been impacted in part due to the nationwide shortage of suitable carers in the sector and also the residual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Whilst the rest of the world tries to resume some kind of normality post-Covid, for the care sector things haven’t changed significantly with regards to the impact this is still having on staffing levels.

“Whilst the report acknowledges the branch has made progress with regards to stabilising the staffing situation, it does not reflect the ongoing challenges the sector is facing with regards to these issues.

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“The inspector recognised the branch has made ‘significant improvements’ in these areas.

“However, they also concede there has been insufficient time to allow these improvements to be embedded before we were inspected.

“We are therefore hopeful that when we are next inspected this is recognised and we achieve a ‘good’ rating overall to reflect the hard work and commitment by the branch to our customers.”