Care Home Hits Back At ‘Unfair’ Inspection

A CARE home dubbed ‘poor’ by government inspectors is an innocent victim of red tape and rocketing regulations, declared its director.

Watford House Residential Home had been given a shocking low grading after a new inspector visited in September.But director Frederic Street staunchly defended the Shenstone Wood End home, which was visited again on Monday by another new inspector.

“Every report prior to 2007 was ‘good’, so you can imagine how shocked we were when we went straight down to the bottom,” he said.

The September report, issued by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), criticised areas including fire precautions, emergency lighting and the recording and cold storage of medicines.

Plans of care for individuals were also knocked, although it did say residents and relatives ‘spoke positively of staff and the support given’.

Yet it was a bolt from the blue for staff at Watford House, which was rated ‘good’ by the previous inspection in December 2006.

Up to 43 elderly residents – including some physically disabled or with dementia – pay between £320 to £380 a week to stay at the former farmhouse.

Mr Street believes the 2007 inspection did not follow the Key Lines of Regulatory Assessment (KLORA), a benchmark guide for inspectors.

Regulations also say a judgement can ‘still be excellent if there are areas for improvement but these are being managed well’.

“An adequate service may have a couple of examples of ‘poor’ practice but they are able to show us that they will make improvements,” the KLORA guidelines add, urging inspectors to ‘be proportionate’.

A flabbergasted Mr Street fears this was not the case.

“I feel we have been poorly inspected – the report is based on the inspector’s views and the KLORA guidelines weren’t used,” he said.

“The inspector was not very understanding. If a home is trying to improve, or has improved, it shouldn’t be getting a ‘poor’ rating.”

Mr Street takes issue with ‘alarmist’ words used in the report to describe what he calls ‘a few minor issues’ flagged up by new regulations.

“The medicine storage is a minor issue but because it is a medical issue it gives an immediate ‘poor’,” he said.

“When I read the report it absolutely blew me away. We have been doing this for 20 years and when it comes to caring for people, we think we’re pretty good at it.”

But a barrage of bureaucracy and a burgeoning reliance on back-covering paperwork is increasingly getting in the way of simply looking after people, Mr Street claimed.

“It all comes down to good quality personal care you can dress it up with risk assessments but it seems to me to be getting more about covering your back than caring for people,” he added.

The home has now spent £5,000 on improvements – including an ongoing replacement of new fire doors and a new fire alarm system.

“I was phoning up the CSCI asking them to please come and inspect us again,” Mr Street said.

“We don’t have any problems here and we never have in the past. We are happy that the home is up to standard and the inspector is satisfied – the future is looking good and hopefully the new report will be excellent.”