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Concern over standards in Wiltshire care homes

A WILTSHIRE councillor has expressed his concern about the quality of adult social care in Wiltshire, after seeing a number of care homes in the area failing to meet national standards.

Independent councillor Jeff Osborn told Melksham Independent News, “We are now starting to see more and more heart-rendering failures, at times involving cruelty and neglect, in the provision of social care to the most vulnerable in our community.

“This is manifest in the number of damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports of adult social care in Wiltshire.  The Cabinet at County Hall needs to make this matter an utmost priority. Having looked carefully at the problem, I am forced to conclude that the fundamental cause is that the esteem and rewards of care work are nowhere near high enough.  In a civilised society, such activity should guarantee a respected, secure and well paid career.  Experience indicates that it is very often the exact opposite.  Everything conspires to push costs down and those in care end up paying the price.  Unless this changes, it is almost predictable that we will see more critical CQC reports.”

There are a number of care homes in the Melksham area under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as a result of standards not being met during recent inspections.

Alpine Villa Residential Care Home in Melksham’s inspection in April this year listed required improvements in four of five inspection categories, whereas a report filed in July saw The Old Parsonage in Broughton Gifford fail to meet standards across the board.

The CQC’s investigation of the Alpine Villa Residential Home follows a report from November 2013 which found shortcomings in the safe administration of medicines, and supporting residents according to individual needs. There were also concerns about cleanliness, staff supervision, and the accuracy of patient records.

This year’s follow-up inspection report said, “We noted improvements were being made although as detailed in the provider’s action plan, compliance had not as yet been reached.” The most recent CQC report said that residents were relaxed, the safety of the environment had improved, and further staff training was being implemented.

A spokesperson for Alpine Villa said, “Our staff and management have been working with the CQC to make sure that necessary measures are taken to ensure the home is compliant. We are now in line with those standards, and are waiting for them to carry out a follow-up inspection to confirm this.”

The Old Parsonage in Broughton Gifford received ‘requires improvement’ ratings in all major categories, following a warning to become compliant with the law by May 2014.

CQC’s report published in July this year said, “The provider sent us an action plan in which they confirmed they would take action and would be compliant by 30/05/14. At this inspection we found the provider had not taken appropriate action to become compliant with the law. We additionally found they had become non-compliant with the law in relation to two other areas.”

The commission’s report said, “Care and treatment was not planned and delivered in a way that was intended to ensure people’s safety and welfare.”

A spokesperson for The Old Parsonage said, “We have taken CQC concerns very seriously, and the new manager and staff are working very hard to ensure that all requirements are met. We are committed to providing quality and loving care for our residents, and we are grateful to everybody for their support.”

A number of other homes in the local area are also under investigation for failing to meet standards in one or more categories and all Care Quality Commission reports are publically available at www.cqc.org.uk.

Concern over the quality of care homes has become a national issue in recent months, as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this year that from April 2015, care services rated as inadequate face being put into special measures and given a limited time period to make improvements. If they fail to improve, the Care Quality Commission will have the power to close them down.

CQC  Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe said, “People who are using residential and home care services have the right to expect high quality, safe and compassionate care. I am determined that CQC will shine a spotlight on poor care and make it clear that abuse and neglect is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Of course we want services to improve, but where standards are repeatedly falling short, we will call time on poor care.”