Lancaster and Morecambe home care agency put in special measures

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A care service which supports elderly and vulnerable people has been rated 'inadequate'.

St Gregory's Homecare, based in Carnforth, has now been placed into special measures following the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection.

Inspectors found "significant and widespread shortfalls" which placed people at risk of harm.

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The firm was providing care to 209 people across the region at the time of the inspection between July and October 2021 - mostly older people and those living with dementia.

St Gregory's Homecare in Carnforth. Photo: Google Street ViewSt Gregory's Homecare in Carnforth. Photo: Google Street View
St Gregory's Homecare in Carnforth. Photo: Google Street View

The CQC spoke to 15 service users and 16 relatives about their experiences, as well as 20 staff, including individual, director and registered managers.

Issues raised included infection control and a lack of care concerning continence products.

One relative said: "They often wear their watch or bracelet and have scratched [my relative] when they care for them."

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Another said: "Sometimes they [care staff] would put all sorts of things in the washing machine including pads, seat pads, used soiled gloves."

Schedules for care visits lacked consistency with service users often receiving care visits earlier or later than scheduled.

One person said: "We don't know who's coming and we don't know when; they don't tell us of changes."

Staff also agreed that rota changes affected the service provided as they were not always informed of changes to their rotas.

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One care worker said: "Communication and organisation could be better; times changed, rotas changed with no text, no discussion."

Care visits were also combined on occasions, with some receiving one care visit instead of the contracted morning and lunchtime visits.

Insufficient staff training was seen during the inspection, with one relative saying care staff were not familiar with their family member's continence aid.

They said: "Quite often the care staff will say they haven't done it before but will give it a go."

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It was also found that 62 per cent of staff had not received supervision from the provider in the last 12 months.

One care worker said: "It felt a bit like I was winging it."

A relative said: "[Care staff] buzz in and out so fast they forget to do things."

And a service user said: "[Care staff] say they haven't time to keep messing about and put my clothes on from the previous day. I don't like this at all."

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The service – which was rated ‘good’ at its previous inspection in 2019 - will now be kept under review with a re-inspection expected within six months.

St Gregory's regional manager Lorna May said: “We do not accept the findings of our latest CQC report. St Gregory’s Homecare Ltd has taken a considerable number of steps over the last eight months to drive forward development and improvement in our service, since the inspection dated 21st July 2021.

"We are confident that the service has developed and improved significantly in this time. We have recently commissioned an independent review of our services, which concluded in March 2022. This review has indicated that the service has made significant improvements and has independently assessed that St Gregory’s Homecare Ltd is a good provider.

"We continue to work tirelessly to offer a safe and high quality service and we are working closely with the CQC and local authority to continue to ensure we do so. We welcome our next inspection by the CQC.”