Another Wiltshire Council home care contractor found 'inadequate' - "people at risk of significant harm"

Written by Tony Millett.

Marlborough.News can now confirm that the Mihomecare and Leonard Cheshire contracts for the Help to Live at Home service will both be taken over in September by Mears Care part of the Mears Group.  A company that has had previous problems in Wiltshire highlighted by the CQC.

Wiltshire Council's Help to Live at Home programme has taken another knock from the regulator - the Care Quality Commission (CQC).   Mihomecare, which currently provides care in people's homes on a short and long term basis in the Trowbridge and Melksham areas, has been rated as 'Inadequate'.

Since the CQC inspection in April this year, Mihomecare's contract has been awarded to another provider who will take over in September.  Mihomecare have had problems before.

After a poor CQC report in February 2015 identified 'insufficient staff to meet people's needs', a plan was agreed and last September the inspectors found some of the shortfalls had been addressed: "However, at this [April 2016] inspection, the improvements had not been sustained and concerns about inadequate staffing remained."

At this latest inspection Mihomecare was found to be inadequate as regards its service being safe, effective, responsive and well-led.  On the fifth inspection criterion - 'Is the service caring?' - Mihomecare was found to 'require improvement'.

The report states: "There were not enough staff to ensure people received their planned visits. Due to this, a proportion of all visits were regularly given to another care agency to complete. This did not ensure consistency."

"In addition, the staff team were working at full capacity. This meant if a member of staff called in sick at short notice, there was little flexibility with arranging cover. Staff shortages and errors in communication had caused some missed visits."

"Staff had not always ensured follow up action had been taken, when staff could not gain access to a property. These shortfalls placed people at risk of significant harm."

Although many people praised Mihomecare staff members, inspectors heard how inconsistency in staff going into people's homes was a concern - impacting on privacy and dignity:  "I'm an old lady now, and whilst I don't mind getting undressed in front of my normal carer, it can be really unnerving to do so, in front of a stranger."

In its list of required actions the report states:  "People's safety was not assured as staff were not following the correct procedures, when they were not able to gain access to properties. Risks were not being properly identified as assessments were not being regularly reviewed."

Leonard Cheshire Disability which has been the provider for the Marlborough area, decided not to submit a bid for there-tendering process.  They will also be replaced in September.