Devon home care agency placed in special measures – Newton Poppleford

Following a safeguarding investigation, East Devon home care agency Charity Earnshaw has been rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

The domiciliary care service, which supports adults in the community who require assistance with personal care – including people living with dementia, physical disabilities, mental health needs and sensory impairments – has had local authority placements suspended, as well as new private placements.

Independent health and social care regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently inspected the service and fund it was failing in an number of areas. These include:

  • Safe and effective care
  • Risks were not well managed
  • The administration of medicines was not safe
  • Safeguarding concerns had not always been managed appropriately and had not been reported
  • People were not supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives
  • Inadequate staff training and support
  • ‘significant delay’ in Covid-19 infection control training

The CQC said the Newton Poppleford based provider had not recognised the quality of the service had significantly deteriorated and had therefore put people at risk of unsafe care. It added it had only begun to make improvements when other agencies became involved through the safeguarding process.

The recently published report said: “We undertook this targeted inspection to follow up on specific concerns we had received about the safety and quality of the service. These concerns were subject to individual and whole service safeguarding investigations.

“A decision was made for us to inspect and focus on the management of risk, staff training,medicines administration and quality assurance. During the inspection, we found additional concerns related to protecting people’s human rights; the management of safeguarding and the knowledge and skills of the provider.

“We therefore widened the scope to become a focused inspection which included the key questions of safe, effective and well-led. We have found evidence that the provider needs to make improvements.”

It added: “Prior to our inspection we found peoples experience of the service was poor and made a number of safeguarding referrals. A whole service safeguarding enquiry was in progress with the local authority. A suspension of local authority placements was in place, and a voluntary suspension of new private placements.”

It continued: “Concerns about people’s health and safety had not always been escalated by staff, and not all staff we spoke with were aware of the processes for doing so. External health professionals and relatives told us the provider did not always work effectively with other agencies to provide safe and effective care.

“Safeguarding concerns had not always been managed appropriately and had not been reported to the local authority or the CQC. Safeguarding policies and procedures were out of date.”

It was noted Charity Earnshaw had expanded significantly since the last inspection in June 2019, when 18 people were being supported.

By August 2020 it had increased to 33 people. The staff team had increased from five to 14. It provides services in Newton Poppleford, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary, Woodbury, Seaton, Tipton St John, Exmouth and Colyton Raleigh.

The report said: “The provider told us the training and development of the staff team and service had been delayed as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.

“The provider and staff team were committed to improving the quality and safety of the service. One member of staff told us, ‘a lot of things need to be updated. I know the provider is doing their utmost to get everything in place. I’m happy now it’s being put in place. It’s improving’.”

Inspectors also received positive reports about the service. Overall people said the service was reliable. One person said: “I have no objections. They turn up on time. They are nice carers, very helpful… I have a list of who is coming and what times and they turn up on time.”

Charity Earnshaw is working with the local authority and has drawn up a service improvement plan.

The overall rating for this service following the CQC inspection is now ‘Inadequate’ and the service is therefore in ‘special measures’. It means the CQC will keep the service under review and will reinspect within 6 months to check for significant improvements.

Charity Earnshaw were approached for a comment.