A Totland Bay care home has been put into special measures after inspectors found dirty bathrooms and bedrooms, unhappy staff and unsafe residents.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated Seven Gables Residential Care Home as ‘inadequate’, dropping from ‘good’ in 2019, following an inspection at the end of August which unearthed multiple breaches of the Health and Social Care Act.
New owners of the home, Churchlake Care, took over in May and said it was struggling even then.
Nick Farmer, Churchlake’s chief operating officer, said they had embarked on a vigorous programme of change and improvement, speaking to residents and their families to establish where the key failings lie but were only part of the way through the process at the time of the CQC’s inspection.
Mr Farmer said they were retraining all remaining and new staff and are committed to working with the health watchdog, Isle of Wight Council and health professionals to improve the standards Seven Gables.
In its report, the CQC only assessed safety and leadership — but determined both areas were inadequate. When inspectors arrived, unannounced, on their first day, they found there was not enough staff to meet people’s needs and ensure safe care was provided, with only 2 carers for 20 residents.
Inspectors found residents were not always shown dignity or respect with an ‘undignified culture’ in the service where staff were task-focused, dismissive and had little time to spend with people. On one occasion inspectors intervened to support residents and ensure safety with their meals and drinks.
They also witnessed someone who was at risk of falling and another who needed to use the toilet immediately but was told to wait; noting residents had become accustomed to staff not supporting them.
Speaking to residents, inspectors heard staff were ‘too busy to support them’ and people felt like they could not ask for help as staff would not come.
One resident told the CQC they felt anxious and miserable most of the time, with another saying they were ‘fed up of being stuck in their chair’ but there was no point in using their call bell as staff would not appear.
According to the report, it was often, staff said, that there were only two members on each shift and even they felt it was unsafe.
Inspectors noted the staff were ‘clearly unhappy’, with a tense atmosphere, as one member told them Seven Gables ‘used to be the best home with really dedicated staff’ but several had resigned in a short timeframe.
While residents had told inspectors they felt safe, the CQC found people did not receive a service that ensured they were safe and were not assured staff were using correct equipment or safe handling to support people.
There was also a failure to ensure the home was clean and well-maintained, with dirty toilets, unclean sinks and baths and bedroom carpets with food and debris on.
Inspectors said they were not confident staff understood how to use personal protective equipment effectively or safely having witnessed multiple staff wearing masks incorrectly.
The CQC said the leadership of the service was impacted by the absence of management oversight or contingency planning and provider oversight was poor.
Mr Farmer said Churchlake Care had made a number of staff changes and fully liaised with those involved to improve the safeguarding of residents. He said the new manager had also added a way for staff to report risks without fear of retribution.
Mr Farmer said they were also recruiting new staff to ensure levels are correct and basic tasks, such as cleaning, were managed and maintained correctly.
The CQC said Seven Gables would be kept under review and re-inspected within 6 months to check significant improvements had been made.
If insufficient action has been taken, and the service is still ‘inadequate’, the CQC can take enforcement action and begin the process of stopping the service.
The Isle of Wight Council has said it is working closely with Churchlake Care and believe it is taking appropriate steps to address the concerns raised in the report.
A council spokesperson said it is focusing on working with residents and their families to ensure the care and support they receive remains suitable to their needs, they remain safe and well cared for.