What inspectors say about Norfolk’s worst-rated care homes
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Residents sleeping in rooms stinking of urine, no one answering calls for help, and a risk of life-threatening infections – these are just some of the concerns inspectors have uncovered in Norfolk's worst-rated care homes.
There are around 700 care homes in the county and most of those which have been inspected are either rated as 'good' or 'requires improvement' by regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Under one per cent have the lowest possible rating of 'inadequate'.
But as the NHS comes under more pressure there has been a knock-on effect for care homes.
Last week, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones told the House of Commons that the inspection system, which came into force in 2014, was not up to scratch.
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'Of the 448 care homes most recently inspected, a staggering 200 – that's 45pc – have been rated as either 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate',' he said.
'Surely the purpose of any system of regulation and inspection must be to drive up standards. Those figures alone suggest that the current system is not working.'
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In January, the British Medical Association warned that patients who would previously have stayed in hospital beds were now being moved into care homes to ease pressure on the NHS.
Homes are also facing funding problems, having to pay more in wages due to the introduction of the living wage, while receiving less money from local authorities for people's care because of council cuts.
There are five care homes in Norfolk currently branded 'inadequate' by the CQC. A further two homes previously rated 'inadequate' in Norfolk have shut.
The CQC gives the homes' owners six months to improve before they start taking more serious action which can lead to care homes being shut.
The Old Vicarage, Hopton
This home on Warren Street closed in late 2014 after a string of unannounced inspections found that the home was failing to look after people properly.
Inspectors also said residents were at risk of infection.
Half of the relatives inspectors spoke to said staff could be impatient in dealing with residents.
Despite managers saying they would improve in September 2014, a report rating the home 'inadequate' came out in March 2015.
'People's safety was compromised in a number of areas,' the report said.
It was rated 'inadequate' in four of five areas which inspectors look at.
The home was run by Estateband Limited, which was dissolved in May 2016, according to documents at Companies House.
The home has now been demolished by Bourne Leisure Ltd, which runs Haven Holidays and Butlins.
It has turned the site into a development called The Green at Hopton which has 14 luxury caravans.
The Lodge Care Home, Watton Road, Ashill
People were living in rooms which smelled strongly of urine, according to the CQC's report into this home in August 2016.
The eight people cared for, some of whom had dementia, were also at risk of infection.
Inspectors found medicine which was being disposed of wasn't being locked away, meaning it could be accessed by residents.
Despite owners saying they would improve the home after a previous inspection in August 2015 which found 'serious issues throughout the service', the CQC said not enough had been done for the home to improve on its overall rating of 'inadequate'.
'People's safety within the home was compromised,' they said after their visit in June this year.
'Risks to [residents'] welfare were not always properly assessed and mitigated.
'They were exposed to risks in the way the premises was operating, for example, in relation to fire safety and from inadequate measures to reduce risks associated with the spread of infection.'
The owners did not wish to comment.
Hamilton House and Mews, The Street, Catfield
Elderly people were often treated without enough respect, and one resident complained of staff stealing their food, according to a 2015 report in which the home ranked inadequate in all five of the CQC's ratings criteria.
The home was also understaffed, meaning staff were badly trained and residents were unable to leave the home regularly, inspectors found.
Hamilton House and Mews has now closed, and the owners at the time of the inspection in 2015, said the closure had been planned before the home was found to be 'inadequate'.
The new owners – the Atarrah Project, which bought the building for £775,000 – own a care home for women with mental health issues called Milestones Hospital in Salhouse.
They are renovating the care home and will reopen it, though a date is yet to be confirmed.
Lisa Vescio, managing director of Milestones, said: 'It requires substantial renovation and restoration work.
'We plan to carry this out over the year ahead to bring the building back to life.'
'We will work closely with the local community and will be meeting with them to discuss future plans.'
Lower Farm Care Home, South Wootton
Residents were calling for help and having to wait for up to 45 minutes for their bells to be answered at Lower Farm Care Home, inspectors found.
The report noted an instance where someone used their bell one night and no one came to help them.
One resident told inspectors: 'It took over 45 minutes yesterday to get a response to the call bell. In the end my [family member] went to find someone.'
Another said: 'There aren't enough staff, they haven't got enough time for me.'
The CQC inspected the home on July 4 and 5, 2016 and its report in August found there were not enough staff.
Inspectors said the ones that were there sometimes didn't have the necessary training.
The home did not wish to comment.
Abbeville Residential Care Home, Wellesley Road, Great Yarmouth
The home was inspected four times in 2015 and the latest inspection in May 2016 found not enough had improved.
Residents were at risk of falling out of windows due to a lack of window restrictions and some assessments to protect people from fire and the legionella bacteria were out of date.
This meant there were risks for the 19 people living there, many of whom have dementia, according to inspectors.
The report published in July 2016 said that although some progress had been made since 2015 'substantial and ongoing concerns remained'.
Abbeville Sands Residential Home, Great Yarmouth
The latest report on Abbeville Sands found that residents were at risk of receiving unsafe medicines and staff administering medicines didn't have up-to-date training.
The inspection on May 16 and 18 found little had been done to improve on an inspection in August 2015 and the residents, some of whom had dementia, were still at risk.
The report said: 'As a result people could not be sure that risks to their wellbeing in relation to pressure areas, falls and their nutritional requirements would be identified and reviewed on a regular basis.'
A spokesman for Abbeville said: 'Abbeville RCH Ltd would like to note that these publications relate to inspections held in April/May 2016. Since this time we have sought an external adviser who has previous experience of working with the CQC as an inspector to improve the services.
'Since these inspections the CQC have inspected both the Abbeville (Wellesley Road) and the Abbeville Sands and has seen improvements in each home which will be reflected in the coming reports.
'Abbeville RCH Ltd will continue to improve the services and strive for a higher quality of care.'
St Edmund's Residential Care Home, Gorleston
This home on Marine Parade, with 37 residents, was putting people at risk of a potentially fatal disease, inspectors found this year.
They discovered a bacteria in the water which causes legionnaires' disease – a disease which can prove fatal in a small percentage of cases.
Inspectors said that although some staff were caring, others could be 'demeaning' and despite knowing that many residents had scalding water in their bathrooms they hadn't sorted the problem out.
The CQC carried out an inspection at the home on June 23 and 30 and on July 6.
The report said: 'The provider had not ensured that the water system in the home was safe. 'Following concerns raised by health professionals a full risk assessment of the system was carried out by an external contractor.
'This found that the water system was at high risk of the legionella bacteria.'
Inspectors were so concerned by the risk that they issued a notice preventing anyone new being admitted to the home.
The home owners did not respond to our requests for comment.