Elderly and vulnerable people are being left at ‘serious risk of harm’ at two Wakefield district care homes as inspections have revealed 'inadequate' standards of care.
As of June this this year, more than 250 care and residential homes across England were classed as ‘inadequate’ – the lowest standard of care rating – by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England.
However, of these, 14 are still operating despite being given the lowest possible ratings in all five areas of review under the CQC’s traffic light based scoring system within the past 12 months.
Hemsworth Park, in Wakefield Road, Kinsley and Riverside Court, Knottingley were among the homes that remained open.
Each scored the lowest possible ratings in safety and effectiveness, and whether they are caring, responsive and well-led.
The homes are now facing the threat of enforced closure if significant improvements are not made over the next six months.
In its report on Hemsworth Park, published in March this year, the CQC said: "Medicines were not safely managed. People often went without medicines which had been allowed to go out of stock, including those for significant pain relief.
"Some staff lacked respect for people's privacy and dignity. People had few opportunities to bathe or shower, and support for people's continence needs was not always provided.
"People lacked stimulus as the provision of activities was poor.
"The service was not well-led. Governance systems such as audits and checks had not identified the issues we identified during the last inspection, and had not driven improvement in the service overall."
And in its reported on Riverside Court published in April, the watchdog said: "There were insufficient staff to meet people's needs safely, and risks were not always managed properly.
"Medication was managed in accordance with requirements but there was inappropriate use of sedative medication for some people with more complex behaviour.
"Some parts of the home were unclean as there was insufficient staff available to support this task.
"People were not supported with nutrition and hydration sufficiently and staff displayed a lack of knowledge about to support people living with dementia.
"Although some staff showed empathy, this was mostly lacking and some staff ignored people in distress.
"People did not have access to person-centred care as most stayed in their rooms, with little stimulation or attempt at engagement."
The findings, which have revealed rapid weight loss in some homes, and found residents left exposed to the risk of injury through abuse, falls, and choking due to lack of supervision and assistance at meals, have been labelled "saddening and shocking" by specialist lawyers who act those who suffer as a result of neglect and abuse in care.
Some homes have been exposed for failing to carry out the checks they are required to by law before employing staff in demanding care roles, whilst many had employees identified as being untrained to manage residents and manage their specific needs.
Homes were also criticised for denying their residents of their privacy and dignity, and for not following end of life care plans specified by residents and their families.
CQC care home Reports make ‘frightening reading’.
Solicitor Sarah Scully, of care homes neglect and abuse claims specialists Hudgell Solicitors, said the reports made "frightening reading".
Her firm is has launched its "Give Me Dignity" campaign, which aims to highlight and expose neglectful care and calls for the elderly and vulnerable to be loved, protected, respected and afforded their dignityin all forms of healthcare.
The firm has reviewed all CQC reports as part of its campaign – identifying all which scored the lowest possible ratings in reports published over the past 12 months.
Mrs Scully said: “Some of the failings highlighted at these care and residential homes are appalling. They paint a frightening picture of what happens in poorly managed and run care facilities.
“People are leaving their loved ones in care homes where medication is not being given as prescribed or recorded accurately, people at being left at risk of choking as they are not being served the right food and drink and are not being supported, action is not being taken to prevent falls and injuries and incidents of abuse between residents are not being investigated and prevented.
“Poor and neglectful care, combined with staff carrying out care roles they have not had specific training for, is a recipe for disaster. These residents are being placed at risk, it is as simple as that.
“Sadly, we see so many families who place their loved ones in care in good faith and are left heartbroken with the poor standard of care they receive. It ends up being a decision that haunts them, as they feel responsible of the suffering they go through.
“Interestingly, there are many positive comments from families in the CQC reports, yet inspectors have placed them in special measures and warned of possible closures.
“It is why we launched our ‘Give Me Dignity’ campaign. We want to see families understand more about care standards and poor and neglectful care challenged at all times. We believe it is possibly the most harrowing and heartbreaking repeated failures of the health system.
“These are people who have lived rich and fulfilled lives and contributed so much to society. Things have to change.”