Care agency rated inadequate and placed in special measures after missed appointments and unsafe care

Hales Group in Lowestoft. GOOGLE MAPS.

Hales Group in Lowestoft. GOOGLE MAPS. - Credit: Archant

A care agency which supports people with dementia and mental health conditions has been rated inadequate and placed in special measures by regulators.

The Lowestoft branch of the Hales Group has been heavily criticised by inspectors following an announced inspection of services.

The care agency provides personal care to people living in their own homes across Waveney, including people living with physical and sensory impairments.

In March, the agency was told it required improvement following inspections in December 2017 and January 2018, which found the service inadequate at keeping patients safe.

In the latest report, published this week, it is acknowledged some progress has been made, but said: 'People continue to receive care which did not always meet their assessed needs.'

At the time of the latest inspection, on September 5 and 6, the service was supporting 69 people, a drop from the 230 reported at the previous inspection after a change to work solely in Waveney.

The report states: 'Despite the reduction in the number of people they supported, we found that people were still receiving late visits. Some people had cancelled their care as they couldn't wait any longer for the carer to arrive.

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'There have also been missed visits and this meant that people did not always receive the care they needed to keep them safe.

'Some people required two staff to attend to their needs but, in some cases, we found only one carer had attended. This placed people and staff at risk of harm and did not meet the person's assessed care needs.

'Some people using the service, and their relatives, indicated they did not have confidence in the service delivering the care as planned.

'People told us that carers delivering their care were kind and caring, but they did not feel that office staff and management could be relied upon.'

The report also raised concerns over the effectiveness of quality checks, with the recording of medicines missed, but did praise the supervision and training provided to staff.

Nicola Mewse, managing director of Hales Care, said: 'Our legal team submitted to the Care Quality Commission a 42 page document evidencing the numerous areas where the report is unjust and simply wrong.

'Notwithstanding this, the inspection took place nearly four months ago and referred to alleged incidents nine months earlier than that.

'The safety and wellbeing of our service users is the primary objective of Hales Homecare.

'The care that we deliver each week helps to keep vulnerable individuals in their own homes where they feel safe, surrounded by the things they hold dear.

'The report does not criticise our highly skilled care team who work tirelessly every day despite the many challenges that the homecare sector faces.'

Services are rated in five categories, with the Lowestoft branch rated inadequate for providing safe care and being well-led. It was also rated as requiring improvement for being effective, caring and responsive.

Overall, the service has now been rated inadequate and placed in special measures to be kept under review and re-inspected within six months.

If insufficient progress has been made in that time, the group could be prevented from operating.

A spokesman for the CQC said: 'As a result of the inspection, the home is currently rated as Inadequate overall.

'Prior to the publication of any report we share a draft with providers so that they have an opportunity to give feedback regarding factual accuracy.

'We can confirm the provider requested a meeting and CQC said it will meet with them following publication of the final report.

'We will continue to monitor the home and to check on any improvements it makes. This will include further inspections.'

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