CQC moves to shut two care homes over ‘serious lack’ of skilled staff

Care provider 'very surprised' by closure notice but CQC says failings placed residents at significant risk of harm

Care home
Image Source/Rex Features

Two care homes in Kent face closure after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it had identified a ‘serious’ lack of suitably skilled nursing staff, issues with care records, and poor leadership at the services.

The Woodlands and Fairfield Manor homes in Broadstairs were instructed to close by the social care regulator this week, following their failure to improve standards of care. Between them the homes provided care to 59 residents and employed 57 staff.

All residents have now been moved out of Fairfield Manor, which received a formal closure notice on Monday. The Woodlands home is expected to close next Tuesday.

Orchard Care, the care provider that took on managing the homes in October last year, said it was “very surprised” at the CQC’s decision. The company said it had been working to address several of the issues identified by the regulator, including staffing problems.

Adrian Hughes, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care in the south, said: “We have identified a number of serious issues at both Fairfield Manor and Woodlands, and these have led us to begin action to remove these homes from registration with CQC. We found a serious lack of suitably skilled nursing staff, and of care records, poor communication and poor leadership. All of these being right is vital in making sure that people’s needs are met.”

Hughes acknowledged that CQC’s move to close the homes “has caused upheaval for residents, their families and staff” but said the regulator had to act.

“In this case, the issues identified were serious enough to place people at significant risk of harm, and our primary interest has to be and is always in the safety and welfare of people living in these homes,” he said.

The CQC is now working with Kent County Council to ensure that residents are transferred safely to new homes. Council staff will remain at the Woodlands site until it closes.

Anne Tidmarsh, Kent’s director of older people and physical disability, said: “We have been working with the CQC and the provider to address serious concerns but unfortunately these areas of improvement have not been achieved by the care homes.

“We are continuing to work closely with the CQC, health colleagues and the provider to ensure a safe and dignified transfer for the residents.”

An Orchard Care spokesperson said: “These homes have had a long history of issues and we didn’t take over the management of them until last October. Our internal audits had identified the issues raised by the CQC, and we had begun to address these. However, the core of the issue is the extreme difficulty of recruiting nurses in Broadstairs to manage the complex needs of the residents. Despite increasing the rates of pay we could not compete with the local hospital.”

The GMB union, which represents care home staff, called on the regulator to defer the closure notices pending a full investigation.

Andy Prendergast, senior officer for the GMB, said: “We understand that there were serious failings in the homes but we think a full investigation is needed to determine why these issues have not been picked up previously.”

He added that the sudden closure meant that “a number of good and dedicated staff have lost their jobs through something that wasn’t their fault.”

The CQC’s full report on their findings will be published in due course.

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4 Responses to CQC moves to shut two care homes over ‘serious lack’ of skilled staff

  1. Dan Midwinter August 22, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    It is certainly true in the areas we operate; Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and South Wales that staffing shortages are becoming more of a problem for care organisations.

    It seems to me that this problem is compounded by funding cuts and cost saving measures.

    This is now seriously impacting many care organisations ability to attract and retain suitable staff.

    Whilst the economy was in a more inactive state, providers were in a stronger position to keep staff- despite low wages. That is becoming harder now that the job market is becoming more fluid and more job opportunities are available to workers.

    Dan Midwinter
    Director
    Completely Care Ltd
    Specialist staffing provider for social care, healthcare, childcare and education

  2. Roy Davies August 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    The closure of Woodlands and Fairfield care homes was done with unseemly haste as though the CQC wanted to show their strengths when it came to drastic action being needed; such action has led to residents being flung far and wide – Dover for example.

    There is no doubting the failure of the owners to address serious problems highlighted by the CQC; on the other hand, why doesn’t the CQC have systems in place to detect problems before they become catastrophic?

    I see the tragedy at Woodlands and Fairfield as much the responsibility of the CQC as the owners.Checks into the affairs of care homes need to be undertaken constantly; so, we don’t see elderly and fragile people being moved at a moment’s notice miles away from where they were settled without any chance to choose where they might go.

    Yesterday, CQC staff in attendance at the homes steadfastly refused to speak with residents or their families. They claim that lives were at risk but perhaps forget that forced upheavals could be just as damaging for the individuals concerned.

    I and many others I’m sure would like to know why the CQC didn’t step in much sooner and try and rescue the situation rather than having to take drastic action that has distressed so many.

  3. Olushola Woru August 28, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Regarding to the closure of 2 care homes that lack skilled staff, it is advisable to provide standard training at the beginning of their employment and also training should be given to them during their employment.

  4. Danny Gill September 1, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    There needs to be a system in place, just like exams in school or college that is the final decider, caring might seem like a hard job but we’ve all looked after family members before so caring for residents in care homes, with the proper training should not be that difficult. Then again, some employees don’t really care at all which is obviously a bigger issue.