Watchdog puts care home into special measures due to ‘significant shortfalls’

A care home where staff were repeatedly physically assaulted by “distressed” residents and inspectors heard people being referred to by room numbers instead of names has been placed into special measures by the health watchdog.

There were also reports of residents calling for support and being “ignored”, and one person who was restricted to multiple days in bed each week because they had to share a specialist chair at Summerfield House Nursing Home in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Summerfield House is a residential care home providing nursing and personal care for up to 107 people, some of whom are living with dementia, and is run by Bondcare.

The facility’s rating has dropped from “requires improvement” to “inadequate” after an inspection in January and February by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It came “in part due to concerns received about the management of the home, people’s care and treatment, and how their privacy and dignity was maintained”, the watchdog’s report said.

Sheila Grant, the CQC’s deputy director of operations in the North, said the visit found “widespread and significant shortfalls in the management and oversight of the service”.

She added: “There were several areas of concern where people’s safety, care and dignity was being compromised due to standards that had been allowed to slip.

“We saw care records that showed repeated occasions where staff had been physically assaulted by people who were distressed. During the inspection we saw people showing signs of distress and calling out for support from staff, but they were often ignored, which is totally unacceptable.

“We observed that some staff were task-focused and didn’t communicate with people when providing support. For example, we saw people being moved in their chairs by staff without any prior explanation or discussion. We also saw staff referring to people by their room numbers instead of their names, which is degrading and disrespectful.”

The CQC’s report said there were not always enough staff to meet residents’ needs and keep them safe, records showed medicines were not always available, and care “wasn’t person-centred”.

It added: “Medicines were not managed safely. Records for adding prescribed thickening powder to drinks, for people who have difficulty swallowing, were inconsistent and not always completed. Therefore, we could not be assured people were safe from the risk of choking.”

Inspectors found staff were often “rushing” due to a computerised care system allocating tasks to be completed at a certain time, which meant some residents waiting longer for support.

They added that some staff “were task-focused, lacked empathy and did not communicate with people when providing support”.

“We saw staff remove a person’s cap, put an apron on them and spoon food into their mouth without any communication,” the report said.

It added that residents’ privacy and dignity was not always respected by staff, with inspectors seeing a person using the toilet with the door wide open on two separate occasions.

The home has been placed into special measures, which means it will be kept under close review by the CQC.

Ms Grant said: “Leaders took action during and after the inspection in response to the concerns raised and an action plan has been put in place.

“An additional senior management team was also being brought in to support staff, so we expect to see the necessary improvements being made as quickly as possible to ensure nobody comes to harm.”

She added: “We did see some positive areas of care. Despite some staff not treating people with dignity and respect, we did see some who were patient, gentle and kind and listened to people. We also observed people enjoying activities and one-to-one time with staff members.”

Bondcare has been contacted for comment.

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