Concern over standards at Thorpe St Andrew care home as new admissions are voluntarily suspended
Concerns have been raised about the quality of care at a Thorpe St Andrew nursing home after a high number of staff changes in recent months.
The Evening News understands that some 18 staff at Larchwood Nursing and Residential Home, on Yarmouth Road, have either resigned or been suspended since December.
Now it has emerged that Norfolk County Council is monitoring the situation and management at the home, which caters for 48 elderly people, have voluntarily agreed not to take in any new admissions until the current issues are resolved.
Today the home's parent company, Bondcare, insisted the county council and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were fully aware of the situation.
A spokesman for the council, which currently has 32 people placed at the home, said: 'We are aware of some concerns that exist around the care provided at Larchwood Nursing Home.
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'We have recently visited the home and met with the manager and area manager and we will be working with the home on the action plan they have already produced which sets out the targets for improvement. We will continue to monitor the home's progress closely.'
Some of the staff affected by the changes have accused the home of damaging the quality of care for its residents – who are a mixture of council and private residents – by replacing long-serving staff with agency staff.
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Three of the affected staff members came to the Evening News requesting publicity for what they described as 'an unfair situation'.
They went on to say that they had all worked at the care home for more than four years and felt that the quality of care for the home's residents was being damaged because of the drastic changes.
A new manager began at the home towards the end of last year.
A spokesman for Bondcare said: 'We constantly evaluate the quality of our homes to further improve the standards. The internal quality audits at Larchwood led to a number of new policies and procedures being introduced at the home.
'We are working to implement these and liaising closely with the council and the CQC to keep them informed.
'We are confident that residents, families, the council and the CQC are satisfied with our actions.'
In a letter sent to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, one of the former staff members wrote: 'I have highlighted the compromise of patient care and safety due (to the) sudden influx of high number agency staff who did not have structured training and induction to work in Larchwood.
'I have received verbal complaints from patients and relatives many times.'
It is understood that Ms Smith is unable to get involved in the dispute but the Bondcare spokesman confirmed the company was confident all of its actions have been above board and legal.
The spokesman added: 'There are clear and transparent grievance procedures open to all our staff.
'We are surprised and disappointed that a number of former staff have failed to instigate these, or have not attended the formal meetings arranged to help resolve their issues and our concerns, but instead are happy to ventilate them in the media.
'It is paramount that the residents care and safety remains the core focus of any of the company's actions. Bondcare puts the quality of its care and the welfare of residents at the heart of everything it does.'
The spokesman also added that the home intended to have new permanent staff in place by the end of April.
The county council spokesman added: 'As ever, if anyone has any particular concerns they want to raise, at this home or any residential home in Norfolk, we would urge them to bring them to our attention so we can investigate.'
Local authorities do not have the power to close independent residential and nursing homes. This is something that the Care Quality Commission can take if it feels it is necessary.
People can contact the county council about any adult social care concerns or enquiries they have on 0344 800 8014.
Is one of your relatives a resident at Larchwood? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email@example.com