Health watchdog to investigate care home

Little Acorns Registered rest home, Silverdale Road Eastbourne July 10th 2012 E28091N
Little Acorns Registered rest home, Silverdale Road Eastbourne July 10th 2012 E28091N

A CARE home at the centre of a scandal is now being probed by a health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission is to start an investigation into Little Acorns, which hit the headlines last weekend after photographs depicting staff apparently mocking dementia patients were posted on Facebook.

Staff members Becky Cooper and Sadie-Louise Moseley were suspended from the Silverdale Road home (left), which looks after patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

A third member of staff, Natalie Hemsley, was disciplined after two photos taken in the home were posted on the social networking site.

One picture shows a staff member wearing an incontinence pad in front of an elderly female patient and the second shows two girls wearing glasses, pulling faces and leaning on zimmer frames.

At the time owner Michelle Levett said that the episode was the unfortunate result of a role playing incident, which was taken out of context and at no time was any malice intended.

She said, “The staff concerned are now the subject of appropriate action under their contracts of employment.

“Relatives of the residents of Little Acorns have been contacted and stated they are satisfied and happy with the care and support given to their loved ones by the staff and management.

“I referred the matter immediately to East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care and to the Care Quality Commission.

“Adult Social Care has decided it will not be investigating as there was no evidence that any residents were harmed by the conduct of the carers.

“The incident and any distress occasioned by it to residents and their families are greatly regretted.

“Little Acorns will continue to provide the very best possible care for its residents.”

Social Services launched an immediate investigation and the Care Quality Commission has begun its own probe. It says it had uncovered problems when it inspected the home, which can look after up to 20 people, in May this year.

The CQC said the home was not meeting some standards people had the right to expect – including standards of staffing, standards for caring for people safely and protecting them from harm and standards of quality and suitability of management.

The organisation said risks to people in the home were not appropriately assessed and areas made safe.

Routine servicing of equipment and services had not been updated and this could place people at risk of harm.

It also said a programme of mandatory training was in place and staff were in receipt of supervision and staff meetings but these were not recorded and staff induction did not evidence how staff competencies were assessed.

The CQC also said there were inconsistencies in how the home gathered and provided information about risk, quality monitoring and service improvement and systems for providing feedback to people who used the service and their relatives, about actions taken to improve the service were undeveloped.

The organisation said that while Little Acorns was not meeting essential standards in three areas and requirements had been recommended, it did meet standards in treating people with respect and involving them in their care and standards of providing care, treatment and support that meets people’s needs.

A spokesperson said when CQC inspectors visited they spent time observing residents who were unable to engage in conversation and noted staff interactions with them.

“Staff demonstrated a kind and patient attitude towards the people in the home. In general people in the home were seen to be clean, well groomed and clothed appropriately.

“We spoke with three relatives who confirmed that they felt they were kept well informed by the home about the care of their relative and that they were consulted about aspects of care and support.

“People in the home and their relatives were kept informed about their care and were consulted about changes in day to day care.

“In general staff demonstrated a compassionate and patient attitude towards people in the home and engaged with them in a pro active manner respecting their choices, decisions, privacy and dignity. People lived in a generally clean and well maintained environment.

“They were enabled to personalise their own space.”

Last week the families of patients at Little Acorns defended the home.