Care Quality Commission: Wiltshire Help to Live at Home care provider below standard
Wiltshire Council’s Help to Live at Home care service took a severe blow today (September 3) when the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a critical report on Mears Care Ltd’s service in the Amesbury and Salisbury areas.
See below for added information.
The CQC has warned Mears that it must make improvements to its service. This follows two unannounced inspection visits in June and July after the CQC was contacted by 23 people who had concerns about the service provided by Mears.
The CQC found that standards were not being met in five areas: care and welfare of people who use the service, management of medicines, support for workers, assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision and the complaints procedure.
They are currently checking to see whether the improvements they required of Mears have been put in place.
It appears from the report that the provider was falling down mainly on the organisation of home visits. Many of the people the inspectors spoke to were pleased with the carers, but complained about missed visits, late visits and that they often did not from day to day who was coming into their home.
Some of this was down to the fact that Mears has recently bought three smaller care agencies within the area: “The purchase and transfer of the new services had not been complete well. This significantly impacted on the quality of the service provided and placed people at risk of harm.”
“Staff told us they had not received any training since transferring to the agency. They said they had not received any formal one-to-one supervision.”
One person told the CQC that “it’s getting to the stage when I’d rather cancel and do without” home visits. And two women said they had at times been sent a male carer to assist with their personal care.
Mears Care Ltd is one of the four organisations providing Wiltshire Council’s Help to Live at Home service across the county: Leonard Cheshire Disability in the north and east (including the Marlborough area), Somerset Care at Home in the west and north, Mihomecare in the west, and Mears in the east and south.
Mears has 98 branches across the United Kingdom and are ‘caring for more than 15,000 people in their own homes every week.’
The firm’s website says: “Mears provides high quality and flexible care for older and disabled people who want to avoid costly nursing homes and would like to continue living in their own homes.”
Concern has been raised before about Mears’ contract with Wiltshire Council. At a meeting of the Council’s Sheltered Housing Forum in November 2013, Mears was on the agenda and there was ‘a lengthy discussion on the service they were supposed to be delivering.’
However, one person said of Mears’ carers “They give 100 per cent. They’re respectful and understanding.” This person could not tolerate seeds in fruit and told the CQC how one carer had taken all the seeds out of a tomato: “You can’t get better than that.”
Last May the CQC criticised Wiltshire Care at Home which is part of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Group, and is contracted by Wiltshire Council to provide care at home in parts of Wiltshire.
The CQC found this provider needed to take action to come up to standard on the ‘Care and welfare of people who use the service’ and in support for their workforce.
The inspection was carried out in March 2014. The CQC report identified the source of the concerns:
“The service was delivering care as specified in a contract designed by the local authority [Wiltshire Council] which changed the usual care given by the agency. Care was contracted to meet outcome they had identified for people. This meant that visits were not necessarily time or duration specific.”
The CQC found that the contract was complicated to monitor leading to risks for people needing care. The Council also required Leonard Cheshire to accept all referrals “and they may be instructed to provide care within four hours of a referral.”