Unsafe care homes are forcing people to become unpaid carers

Norfolk libraries have been praised for their project to help elderly people feel less isolated. Pic

Norfolk libraries have been praised for their project to help elderly people feel less isolated. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Relatives concerned about the safety of care homes are being pushed to become unpaid carers, a charity has claimed, as it was revealed the region had more than the national average of unsafe care provision.

St Nicholas Care Home in Sheringham which received a poor report.
Photo by Mark Bullimore

St Nicholas Care Home in Sheringham which received a poor report. Photo by Mark Bullimore

Almost 28pc care homes in Norfolk are unsafe, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said. Six of those are inadequate, with 90 requiring improvement.

This was out of 346 care homes with the latest rating.

In Suffolk, 32pc of homes were unsafe, with four inadequate and 52 requiring improvement out of 174 in total.

Nationally, 22pc of care homes - which includes residential homes and nursing homes - were failing in safety.

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Issues seen by inspectors include people being washed and dressed and then put back to bed to make it easier for staff, residents not getting enough to eat and drink, and people not getting help to go to the toilet in time.

One of the services deemed unsafe by inspectors is St Nicholas Nursing Home, in Sheringham, which has an overall rating of inadequate. Despite its name, it does not provide nursing care after the CQC stopped it doing so in 2015.

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A CQC report released in March found there was a lack of staff and medication was not always given. The report said: 'We found faeces on one bathroom floor in the morning that was not cleaned up until two hours later.

'One person's bedroom floor had a lot of loose debris, a used glove for personal care and a commode that smelled strongly of urine.

'In the main upstairs communal bathroom a pair of dirty underwear had been hung over a metal frame, the bin was overflowing and the toilet seat was smeared with faeces. Another person's bed controls had faeces on them.'

Director Shelina Rudd said: 'We have taken the outcome of the inspection very seriously and are committed to ensuring the standards at the home are greatly improved. Since the inspection we have recruited a new, highly experienced manager and an external consultant to ensure changes take place and are sustained.

'We would like to confirm that CQC have revisited St Nicholas on June 19 to inspect the improvements and have advised us they are pleased with the significant progress made within the home.'

But cases such as this have made relatives decide to keep their loved ones at home and become unpaid carers, according to support service Norfolk Carers.

Tim Allard, executive manager at Norfolk Carers, said: 'There are many concerns around the quality of residential care at the moment – with several high profile examples of inadequate provision. This is bound to impact unpaid carers.

'People looking after a loved one often concern themselves about two things – the cost and the quality of residential care.

'Unpaid carers who cannot afford the most expensive homes fear they might not be getting the best quality care, which isn't necessarily the case.

'At Norfolk Carers, we can support and reassure carers who find themselves having to consider residential care.

'If someone is dealing with a residential circumstance which isn't working out, we can provide advocacy, emotional support and practical help.'

More than 21,000 adult social care services in England have been given a rating by the CQC in five areas of safety, leadership, and whether a service is caring, effective and responsive to people's needs.

Across these five indicators, 19pc of services require improvement, 2pc are inadequate, 77pc are good and 2pc are outstanding.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: 'These are things you do not want to be happening to your loved one or mum.

'If you're in a residential or nursing home, it may be that there are not enough checks and balances in place to ensure people are getting the right medication and the right support to eat and to drink.'

She said failing services do not always treat people with dignity and respect, while other issues included a reliance upon agency staff who do not necessarily know the people they were caring for and were therefore not able to provide the services needed.

A failure to carry out proper checks on staff and poor staff training has also been highlighted by inspectors.

• If you're an unpaid carer who needs support, call 0808 808 9876 or visit www.norfolkcarers.org.uk

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