'Inadequate' Bedford care home placed in special measures after damning report

Health watchdog makes three separate safeguarding referrals following visit to Autism Care (Bedford)

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 6:14 pm

A care home on St Andrew's Road has been placed in special measures after residents using the service said they felt unsafe.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Autism Care UK (Bedford) as "inadequate" overall in an inspection - as well as "inadequate" on safety and leadership.

The residential care home - also known as Larchwood House - caters for nine people with autism or learning difficulties.

Autism Care UK (Bedford) - also known as Larchwood House

A spokesperson for Autism Care UK said. “We acknowledge the findings of the CQC report, and we were already making improvements to the service before the report was published.

"We are absolutely committed to delivering a high standard of care at Larchwood and we have an agreed plan in place with CQC to ensure further improvement.

"We are pleased that CQC continue to rate our service as good in the categories of effective, caring and responsive.

"We will continue to work with the CQC, our commissioners and the families and carers of the people we support to ensure that we deliver a high standard of care.”

As a result of its findings, the health watchdog has made three separate safeguarding referrals to Bedford Borough Council adult protection team and informed Bedfordshire Fire Service.

The report found:

*There were risks of fire at the home, due to faults with fire doors and other doors being propped open

*One person told inspectors, "I don't feel safe to walk past [the person] in the corridor but I have to. That is why I want to move."

*Staff had used threats of depriving access to community activities as way of controlling one person's behaviour

*People's mental capacity had not been correctly assessed in a meaningful way and there was no evidence of involving the person or others

*People's medicines were not safely administered or managed and there were errors that had not been identified and addressed by the registered manager

*Care records and risk assessments to offer staff guidance about how to support people safely were complex, duplicated and confusing. Staff said they did not always understand them

*The environment was very dirty in communal areas

*The registered manager was rarely at the service

The report labelled the home's leadership as "inadequate", saying: "We also had concerns about the general management and effective running of the service.

"We were told by people, their relatives and staff that the registered manager was often not at the service. There was no evidence that the registered manager had effective oversight of the needs of people and staff."

The report added: "People told us the registered manager did not ask their views about the care and they felt they were not listened to. They told us, 'sometimes the staff don't listen. I just go again and keep going to them until they listen and at the end, they do listen the third or fourth time. I don't like it, but I just wait.'

"One relative told us, "No contact at all from the registered manager, I have only spoken to them once when they first started and [my family member] had gone to hospital. They said they would call back in the morning and never did."

"However, people, staff and relatives felt the deputy manager was very good and was trying to improve the service. They all felt they could speak with the deputy manager. One relative gave an example of how they had been waiting for two years for redecoration of their family members room. After speaking with the new deputy manager, it was arranged for one months' time.

The CQC inspectors also found evidence that people had been harmed in the form of psychological abuse - causing unnecessary anxiety and sedation.

Systems were "not robust enough to demonstrate people were kept safe". This placed people at risk of harm, said the report.

The inspectors also found breaches to the management of Covid-19 risks.

The report said: "We were not assured that the provider was using personal protective equipment (PPE) effectively and safely as staff were seen to be wearing the incorrect type of mask and did not wear them correctly covering their nose and mouth. No clear masks had been sought to support people who were deaf."

However, inspectors rated the home as "good" on three aspects - effective, caring and responsive.

The CQC said: "The overall rating for this service is 'Inadequate' and the service is therefore in 'special measures'. This means we will keep the service under review and, if we do not propose to cancel the provider's registration, we will re-inspect within six months to check for significant improvements."