Regulator takes urgent action at care home

Urgent action has been taken against a service that failed to protect individuals living with a learning disability and autistic people from abuse.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated Summerfield House in Birmingham, run by N H Care Ltd, as ‘inadequate’, following an inspection in August. The residential care home provides personal care for up to five people. At the time of inspection, four people were living at the home.

Due to the serious level of concerns, the regulator took urgent action placing conditions on the service’s registration, including restricting any new admissions and requesting a report of the actions taken and to be taken.

At the same time, the local authority organised an external agency to provide managerial support in the home.

Inspectors returned to find there had been four further allegations of physical abuse and there was no evidence these had been investigated to consider if staff had responded appropriately or lessons could be learnt to prevent further occurrences.

Our latest inspection of Summerfield House found a truly unacceptable service with a poor culture where abuse and people being placed at harm had become normal, with no action taken to prevent incidents from happening or reoccurring,’ said Debbie Ivanova, CQC deputy chief inspector for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

‘Records showed incidents of physical, verbal and emotional abuse which had not been dealt with appropriately or followed up. Physical assault between people had become commonplace, made worse by a widespread lack of recognition from staff about the inappropriate and abusive practices going on.

‘Care records and the language used by staff to speak to people were derogatory with no thought given to people’s dignity and wellbeing.’

Summerfield House was rated ‘inadequate’ overall and for being safe, effective, responsive, caring and well-led.

Inspectors found staff did not support people and care was based on ill-informed information rather than a full assessment of needs. Care plans stated they had not been involved in reviews due to their learning disability.

Records showed staff making threats to cancel people’s activities, call the police when people were anxious and on one occasion use of furniture to prevent a person from moving.

‘We observed a person being hit on the head by another person, this was not
recognised as a safeguarding incident and no immediate action was taken to safeguard either person or consider how to prevent this happening again,’ the report said.

There was no record that staff discussions had taken place to consider the management of incidents and to discuss inappropriate and abusive practices.

‘We continue to monitor the service closely and will take further action if we are not assured the necessary and urgent improvements are made,’ added Ivanova.

N H Care Ltd has been contacted for comment.