Inadequate Rating for dementia care home run by Hampshire company

A dementia care home has been rated ‘inadequate’ and placed into special measures by a health watchdog after its first inspection since opening five months ago.

The home, in Surrey, is run by Waterlooville-based Cornerstone Healthcare Group, which also runs Kitnocks House, a specialist nursing home in Curdridge.

The Surrey home which has been placed in special measures is Marula Lodge in Mytchett, which was inspected in October, having only been opened in July.

At the time of the Care Quality Commission’s inspection there were 15 people living at the home, all of them living with dementia.

Concerns raised in the report included residents being restrained by force, including one locked in their room with a member of staff to stop them leaving.

Inspectors also found the environment not being suitably set up for those living with dementia, and food not being prepared to the consistencies needed by residents.

The CQC report outlined examples of staff interacting in a kind and caring way with residents, with one member of staff calmly reassuring a resident who was confused about being brought lunch when they thought they were due to go home.

The inspector’s report said: “The member of staff did not tell the person they were wrong about going home but calmed them and apologised to the person for bringing them their lunch.

“You could see this visibly calmed the person.”

A spokesperson for Cornerstone Healthcare Group said since the inspection, extensive paperwork had been provided to inspectors to show compliance in areas that were deemed to be lacking.

It was also noted in the report that three health care professionals had flagged before the inspection that people were being restrained by staff, including one person being stopped from walking by using a moving and handling equipment.

During their time at the home, inspectors spoke to staff and families of residents, but also had to intervene in some situations where residents were at risk.

The report said: “For example, one person, who staff told us was frequently aggressive towards other people, was stood next to another person and became agitated with them.

“This was not observed by staff, so we took steps to redirect the person who was agitated to ensure the other person’s safety.

“This was despite the person’s care plan stating staff needed to be aware of the person’s whereabouts at all times to keep everyone safe.”

Problems with the design of the home mean it is not suitable for those living with dementia, with inspectors noting a lack of signs to help people find bathrooms or communal areas, and bedrooms that were not personalised and could lead to more confusion for residents.

The report said: “We found the call bells at the service to be loud in tone which could be alarming and distracting for people.”

Chefs were not always giving people with some chewing ability the right food, with purée being offered to the four people at the service who needed their food a specific way.

The chef told inspectors they had not received any training around the correct consistencies of food people needed to have.

A spokesperson for Cornerstone Healthcare Group said that a self-imposed pause on admissions had taken place while the regulator’s concerns were addressed. They said an action plan was in place and had been shared with the CQC and with commissioners who were “assured by our prompt and comprehensive response”.

The spokesperson said: “Our primary focus is always on providing the highest quality of complex care services, that are valued by the people we care for and their families. Our management team is therefore disappointed by the findings in this report.

“We would like to point out that since we received the draft version of the report we have provided the CQC with extensive documentation to evidence our compliance in multiple areas that they deemed to be lacking.

“Friday 17 December saw us take part in an update meeting involving the CQC which included professionals from Commissioning, Safeguarding, Quality Assurance and our GP service and the feedback was extremely positive.

“The reaction from families is also that the report does not reflect their experience of the service.”

The home will be inspected again in six months and has been placed in special measures, meaning it will be kept under review. If things do not improve, the provider could have its licence taken away.

The full CQC report can be read on the CQC website.

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