Care home residents made to get up at 4.30am by over-stretched staff

Staff shortages at a care home resulted in elderly residents being made to get up as early as 4.30am, inspectors have found.

Linden House in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, provides personal and nursing care for up to 30 older people, including those with physical disabilities and dementia. However, officials from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the setting “requires improvement” in all areas following a recent inspection. 

Although they noted that staff were “kind, caring and helpful”, CQC also raised a number of concerns – particularly around staffing levels, reports the Manchester Evening News.

A new inspection report says there were not alway sufficient staff available to meet people’s needs at the home – which was previously part of Carders Court before it was split into five separate facilities. This, it says, had “placed people at risk of harm” and was in breach of care regulations.

“Most people and relatives raised concerns about staffing levels and told us they had experienced delays when support was needed,” the report adds.

“Most staff told us that staffing levels were often not sufficient to provide people with support when they needed it. Some told us they had raised this with management.”

Inspectors, who visited in November, discovered residents were sometimes made to get up in the early hours so they had time to get them ready for the day. The report adds: “Staff told us that sometimes people were woken early in the morning, between 4.30am and 6am, to get them washed and dressed for the day, as there were not enough staff to support people with getting up later in the day.”

People living at the home were also said to walk around it at night, spending time in communal areas. However, there were not enough workers on duty to monitor and observe them. One staff member told inspectors they felt this had contributed to recent unwitnessed accidents.

The registered manager also felt that there were not always sufficient staff on duty to monitor people to ensure they were safe, according to the report. “She had raised concerns regarding staffing levels with the regional manager, following a recent unwitnessed incident,” it adds.

The home is run by Wellington Healthcare (Arden) Ltd – part of the Bloom Care group – and bosses told inspectors they were in the process of reviewing staffing levels. After the watchdog raised concerns, they agreed to increase levels at night with immediate effect, pending further review.

CQC officials noted that an additional member of staff had been on duty two nights before the inspection – and were told this was to help management assess night-time staffing levels. However, a decision to increase staffing levels had not been made by the time of the visit. The report adds: “People were not always well cared for. They did not always receive support when they needed it, their safety was not always monitored effectively and they were sometimes woken very early in the morning.”

On a more positive note, the report confirms that staff were recruited safely and pre-employment checks ensured employees were “suitable to support people living at the home”.

Concerns were also raised about the ‘cleanliness’ of the home – and inspectors noted ‘unpleasant odours’ in some areas of the building. They found that audits of hygiene and infection control were not always completed as often as they should have been. And where shortfalls had been identified, action had not always been taken in a ‘timely way’.

The report found that the home was in breach of four care regulations in total including failing to ensure people were always treated with dignity and respect. The CQC says it will request an action plan from the provider to understand what it will do to improve the standards of quality and safety. It will work alongside the provider and local authority to monitor progress.

Bloom Care, the company that runs the home, failed to respond to a request for comment on the CQC report.

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