A CARE home has been put in special measures after being rated as inadequate across the board.
Rother Heights in Treeton was given the lowest possible ranking in all five key categories by the Care Quality Commission, including safety, effectiveness and leadership — a fall of two grades since its last inspection little over a year earlier.
Inspectors who visited the specialist autism care venue unannounced in December and January found a string of problems and breaches of regulations.
- Staff failing to keep information about residents confidential.
- Ignoring hygiene risks by wearing jewellery, having false nails and keeping their coats on while washing their hands, thereby increasing infection risks
- Staff taking breaks without ensuring there was adequate cover
- Providing care that was “impersonal and uncaring” and, one on occasion observed by inspectors “intimidating”.
One residents’ relative told inspectors: “I am not happy with Rother Heights and are looking at other options, that is how bad the situation is getting.
“The fees are huge and the service they receive and the care could be a lot better”.
Another said: “They call themselves ‘Autistic Care’ but none of them seem to understand autism. It is certainly not a specialist service provided.”
The CQC found there were general staff shortages and little evidence of effective staff training.
Staff said they did not feel listened to and had raised concerns that had not been addressed. Laundry rooms were in poor condition, bathrooms were not clean and a shower room was found to have damp.
“The provider did not employ domestic staff and the service was in need of a deep clean,” the CQC said.
Fire safety risks were identified, there was no evidence of efforts to reduce hazards and medication systems were not followed, so there was no record of medication being given as prescribed.
The CQC said there was a system in place to protect residents from abuse but noted “staff did not always communicate effectively to ensure concerns were reported to the safeguarding authority”.
Two safeguarding concerns were identified during the inspection and reported.
The inspection report added: “Risks associated with people's care and treatment were not always identified or managed safely.
“This put people at risk of not receiving the right support to meet their needs and showed the registered provider was not doing all that was reasonably practicable to mitigate risks associated with people’s care and treatment.”
Rother Heights, which is made up of four, six-bedroom bungalows and two houses, has capacity for 28 people and 26 spots were taken up at the time of the inspection.
But the CQC found residents were not helped to live independently and “take an active part in their own lives”.
While residents’ needs and choices were assessed, care and treatment was not always delivered in line with current legislation and standards, there was not always access to medical care and there was no evidence or record to show residents were properly fed, with a shortage of food and drinks observed.
Staff were not always “kind and caring”, instead being task-focused and guilty of waiting for incidents to occur “rather than ensuring the correct support was in place to minimise triggers which may cause distress to people”
The inspection report added: “Staff did not always recognise when people needed support and did not always engage appropriately with family members to ensure their relatives needs were met.
“Information about people was not kept confidential.
“We found people did not receive care and support that was responsive to their needs.
“Care plans we looked at were not always followed in line with people's current needs.
“The provider had a complaints policy and procedure in place.
“However, we found people were not always listened to and were not confident that if they raised a concern it would be dealt with.”
With the more challenging residents, inspectors found “staff appeared to see the person's behaviour first and foremost, rather than understanding that they were trying to communicate an unmet need”.
The CQC noted a new management team had been put in place and an action plan outlining the necessary improvements drawn up.
But they added that if change was not seen within six months, the home could be face further action, including closure.
A spokesperson for the Lifeways Group, which runs Rother Heights said: “Lifeways accept the findings of the CQC report into Rother Heights, and we take very seriously our responsibilities to the people we support.
“Lifeways were already working to improve the service we offer at Rother Heights before we received the report, and since then we have put in place a detailed plan for improvement, backed up by a specialist support team.
“We are providing weekly updates on progress to CQC, and Rotherham Council officers are visiting Rother Heights on a weekly basis to review our progress. We are also communicating with the people we support and their families and carers about what we are doing.
“We believe we can show that the service to the people we support has already improved and we will continue to work with CQC, and everyone else involved, to continue this improvement.”
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