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‘Are you for real?’ Families slam care home conditions

Watchdog’s damning report as relatives speak out over quality of care their loved ones are receiving

19 May, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Gemma Merrison: “I would be living on my nerves if I didn’t go into my dad’s every day – he could be dead and maybe no one would realise’

RELATIVES of elderly residents at a Holloway care home have slammed the quality of care their loved ones are receiving on the day a health watchdog announced it had been put under “special measures”.

In a damning report published yesterday (Thursday) the Care Quality Commission (CQC), said residents at Lennox House Care Home in Durham Road were not always kept safe.

Inspectors found that the 87 residents at the home, which is run by private healthcare giant Care UK, were not stimulated with regular activities and there were “significant errors” in the home’s handling of medicine due to lack of stock and administration errors. There was also no registered manager at the time of the inspection – something which is required by law.

Gemma Merrison, 37, from Highbury, whose father Victor Edwards, 70, lives at Lennox House, told the Tribune: “I said yesterday in a meeting [with Lennox House managers], you get a lot of money for these people, they should be treated as kings and queens, they’re vulnerable, in need of extra care.

“I would be living on my nerves if I didn’t go into my dad’s every day – he could be dead and maybe no one would realise.”

Lennox House Care home

The CQC report highlighted how there was no record of one resident’s feeding tube being cleaned for a week – something that needs to be done every day. They also said some staff at the home needed to improve their care for dementia patients. Inspectors lowered their overall rating for the home from “good” to “inadequate” – the worst rating a care home can have – fol­lowing an unannounced inspection in January.

Ms Merrison said she was unsurprised by the rating. She said her father’s room smelled strongly of urine and faeces yesterday and the part of his room where the toilet was located was being used for storage by the home.

The NHS pays Care UK £1,400 a week for his care.

Ms Merrison said she would sometimes find her father, who suffered a stroke in June, covered in his own faeces and said that staff would fail to make their required hourly checks while sometimes writing on rota forms that they had.

“There was one lady, telling me she hadn’t been into my dad’s [room] for three hours. She just stood there and bulk signed it [the rota]. I said: ‘Are you for real?’,” Ms Merrison added.

Islington Council has assigned Mr Edwards a social worker because of the allegations made by his daughter. Even in the safeguarding meetings with the home, managers would not turn up and would sometimes provide Mr Edwards’ social worker with papers for different residents, Ms Merrison said.

A 15-year-old girl, whose aunt lives in the home but did not want to give her name, told the Tribune: “They don’t treat my aunt very well in there.”

Alison Murray, the CQC’s head of adult social care inspection for London, said: “It is disappointing that standards at Lennox House have fallen.

“Although almost everyone we spoke with who used the service, relatives and friends, praised staff for their caring attitudes, we found significant shortfalls in the quality of care people received.”

Care UK, which could lose the contract for running the home if things fail to improve within 12 months, said it had apologised to resi­dents and their families and appointed a new manager for the home.

The firm’s operations director, Chris Hopkinson, said: “Even before this report arrived, our own internal audits had identified that this home was experiencing some issues and we had already started to implement a detailed action plan to bring standards up to the high levels we expect and residents deserve.

“Much progress has already been made and it was reassuring to read that the inspectors found that the team has a caring attitude.”


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