Two Norfolk care homes have been placed in special measures after concerns were raised about the safety of their residents.

The sites, called Foxglove and Daisy, have been rated 'inadequate' following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Both homes are run by the Royal Mencap Society and care for adults with learning disabilities and autism. They are located in nearby properties in Lambert's, a cul-de-sac in Thetford.

The charity has apologised to residents and their families and said that since the inspections were carried out, changes had been made and many of the CQC's recommendations have already been implemented.

Eastern Daily Press: Daisy Care Home on Lamberts in ThetfordDaisy Care Home on Lamberts in Thetford (Image: Archant 2022)

Both homes were rated as 'inadequate' overall, as well as in the categories for being safe and well-led, and as 'requires improvement' for being effective, caring and responsive to people's needs.

In its report, the CQC said there were breaches in the care and treatment of residents who 'were not safe and were at risk of avoidable harm'.

There were specific concerns about some medicines not being stored securely at both sites.

Inspectors also identified that 'sufficient levels of staff were not in place to keep people safe during the day and overnight'.

At Daisy, inspectors found people prone to choking were eating unsupervised when they were assessed to need supervision.

Inspectors witnessed one person repeatedly calling out to request their breakfast, saying they were "hungry", but two staff on shift at the time were providing care to another person.

One resident was found to have unsupervised access to the office and laundry room at Foxglove.

Inspectors also found poor cleanliness, which had an impact on the residents' standards of living and meant infection risks were not well controlled.

One report said that while staff were deemed to be compassionate and caring they 'felt unable to support people with meaningful activities and outings in the community' due to low staffing levels and 'other expectations placed on them to cook and clean the service'.

It said that a 'lack of strong leadership' was behind these issues.

But inspectors also found staff treated people with 'compassion and kindness' and that they respected residents' privacy.

At the time of the inspections, in March, three people were living at Foxglove and five at Daisy.

Deborah Ivanova, CQC director for people with a learning disability and autistic people, said the care at the homes "fell way below the standards that people should expect".

She added: "People’s lives were restricted, and they were not able to experience full and rewarding lives. This is not acceptable.

“We found that premises weren’t always clean and well-maintained, and that there weren’t enough trained staff to keep people safe.

"Staff shortages affected the quality of care that people received and exposed them to increased risk of harm.

“We have raised our concerns with the Royal Mencap Society and both services will be supported to ensure people are safe and improvements are made.

“We will monitor the homes closely, and we will not allow them to provide a service to people if we’re not assured people living at the service can be well cared for.”

'Clearly, we must do better'

John Cowman, chief operating officer at the Royal Mencap Society, said following the rating of the two Thetford care homes that they have met with families of residents to discuss "the changes needed" and that he hopes to see a positive outcome at the next inspection.

He added: “We want to apologise to the people who live in Daisy and Foxglove and their families, and to our colleagues who work so hard to support them.

"We have let you down and are very sorry. Clearly, we must do better.

"This is the first inadequate CQC rating Mencap has had in decades of providing services, and we intend for it to be the last.

"Prior to this, 97pc of Mencap’s services were rated as good or outstanding.

"As a charity and service provider we are committed to delivering high-quality services that enable the 1.5 million people in the UK living with a learning disability, to live better lives.”

The services are under close review by the CQC and will be inspected again within six months.