Elderly people have been living in “grim, shoddy and unsafe” conditions in four care homes run by a private company in Cornwall, the health and social care watchdog has found.
Residents of the Morleigh Group homes lay in urine-soaked bedclothes, sat in chairs for hours with plates of unfinished food in front of them and waited weeks to receive medical attention, the Care Quality Commission said.
Publishing reports on the four homes on Friday, the CQC said all the homes had been rated inadequate and placed into special measures after separate inspections.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the chief inspector of adult social care, said:“These reports make horrifying reading – people in distress being ignored by staff; a person lying in a urine-soaked bed for two hours; people sat in the same chair all day with uneaten meals in front of them, and no help to eat or drink; someone needing medical attention waiting weeks to be referred to their GP.
“These and so many other examples show why we have rated each of these homes as inadequate and are taking further action to protect the safety and welfare of the people living there.”
Clinton House nursing home, in St Austell, closed earlier this month after an undercover investigation by BBC’s Panorama.
The CQC reports concluded:
- At Clinton House, there were not always enough staff on duty. Inspectors noticed one person in distress and crying for 90 minutes while staff walked by three times without speaking to the person to find out if they needed anything or to comfort them. The management of medicines was not robust. One person had not been given one of their prescribed medicines for three days. Inspectors had to intervene when one person – who had previously been assessed as being at risk of falls – was left unattended and nearly fell out of their wheelchair.
- At Elmsleigh care home, in Par, inspectors found one person who suffered from incontinence and was at risk of pressure sores, but was not routinely turned or checked by staff. Records showed that for several days the person often received no personal care – exposing them to the risk of urine burns to their skin. People sitting in the same seat all day, with their meals left in front of them uneaten, even though most needed encouragement to eat. Some appeared not to realise it was mealtime. Some people had sustained substantial weight loss but it was not clear what action had been taken to help them maintain a healthy weight.
- At Collamere nursing home, in Lostwithiel, inspectors witnessed people with dementia calling out repeatedly for some time with no response. One person shouted throughout the day and night. It was only after the inspection that their GP was asked to review their pain relief – and then they appeared to sleep without signs of distress.
- At St Theresa’s nursing home, in Callington, inspectors identified one person who had pressure sores, but had not been repositioned for eight hours. There had been a delay of five days in seeking appropriate specialist advice. Medicines were not being managed safely, the premises and equipment were not being maintained, and the collection of soiled laundry from bedrooms and cleaning procedures did not ensure suitable standards of cleanliness.
Sutcliffe added: “These services were providing grim, shoddy and unsafe care – the sort that no one should ever have to put up with. I am sorry that people have had to endure this poor level of care.”
The CQC said the Morleigh Group, which is family owned, had been supported by Cornwall council and the NHS Kernow clinical commissioning group to make improvements. But it said the company had failed to listen.
CQC inspectors visited Collamere on 10 October in response to concerns about the service. They visited Elmsleigh on 25 October to follow up on improvements required by a previous inspection. Planned inspections of Clinton House and St Theresa’s were brought forward following information received from Panorama.
The BBBC investigation included undercover filming showing one nurse threatening to give morphine to a resident “to shut her up”.
Cornwall council has apologised to residents of the homes and said what had been uncovered by the BBC was “shocking and utterly unacceptable”.
Devon and Cornwall police confirmed it was involved in a multi-agency investigation and no arrests had been made.
Patricia Juleff, owner of the Morleigh Group, apologised for the distress that residents, families and staff had felt. She said: “Over the past few weeks, the group has undertaken a detailed review of our systems. Early in that review, staff numbers were increased in all of our homes and dismissals were made both since and prior to being notified by the producers of the Panorama programme.
“Our review has found inconsistencies in medicine control, maintenance, DBS [disclosure and barring service] checks and staff training that are now being addressed and we are stepping up our efforts and resources across all of those areas to improve the level of our service.”