‘Extensive call-cramming’ leads to care needs not being met

Domiciliary care agency Connected Health Plus has been rated ‘inadequate’ overall and placed in special measures.

Following an inspection in June, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) also rated the service in Widnes, Cheshire, ‘inadequate’ for being safe and well-led. At the last inspection in March this year the service was rated as ‘good’ overall.

Connected Health Plus, run by Connected Health Ltd, provides personal care to people living in their own homes. At the time of the latest inspection the service was supporting 163 people with personal care.

A focused inspection was carried out after the CQC received concerns in relation to missed house calls, the management of medicines, as well as a lack of leadership and governance processes.

‘There was extensive call-cramming, meaning staff were scheduled to be at multiple house calls at the same time, and back-to-back calls without any time for travel,’ said Hayley Moore, CQC’s head of adult social care inspection.

‘The provider’s approach to call cramming meant it was inevitable people’s care needs would not be safely and effectively met or not met at all. Inspectors were told staff were often late or missed calls completely which could put people at risk of harm.’

The inspection also found safeguarding concerns had not been reported to the regulator, and there was no evidence any action had been taken to investigate concerns.

‘We found that people did not receive their medicines safely and as prescribed,’ Moore said. ‘The provider did not have clear information or understanding of people’s individual medication needs which could put people at risk.’

CQC will keep the service under review and re-inspect it within six months.

Ryan Williams, Connected Health group director, said its leadership team in Liverpool had failed to identify and address weaknesses in a small number of council areas.

‘On behalf of Connected Health I personally acknowledge and accept the wholly unsatisfactory level of care identified in the CQC report,’ he said.

‘The failings identified by the CQC report do not reflect our group wide commitment to the highest levels of homecare standards and we unreservedly apologise for this failure in local leadership and systems. The ethos of our business is centred around the health and happiness of the older people we care for and in this instance our central ethos has been tarnished.

‘We are pleased to report that the majority of weaknesses identified by the CQC have already been addressed with ongoing improvement core to our action. The improvement approach involved appointing a range of new critical leadership positions within Liverpool, radical re-training of all staff and most critically ongoing communication with our clients and their next of kin.

‘We are confident of bringing our Liverpool office back into line with the high quality and governance standards set by our group.’