Watchdogs have taken action against a recently opened flagship care home in Mildenhall after finding a number of failings over in-patient care.
In its report the Care Quality Commission found Mildenhall Lodge to be providing inadequate meals to patients, leaving some hungry and thirsty on the wards, and call bells being left unanswered for almost 15 minutes when it was inspected in July.
The home in St Johns Close was the first of ten to be opened as part of a trail-blazing £60 million deal between private provider Care UK and Suffolk County Council, which includes the recently opened Davers Court in Bury and Cedrus House in Stowmarket, due to open next year.
Of the five standards inspected at Mildenhall Lodge by the CQC, only one met the required standard and three were judged as ‘action needed’.
The report found too few staff were present on the wards to cope with patients’ needs and were not being informed about the dietary needs of patients, some of whom suffer from diabetes.
One patient was hospitalised after eating food which had not been cut up properly, a requirement specified in their care plan.
The report also found concerns in the care of dementia patients. One member of staff was left alone on the dementia ward with 11 patients for over ten minutes, and the report said inadequate support was given for patients on the ward to eat their meals.
The home’s lack of activities for patients was also criticised in the report, with few options available to residents and several people spending ‘considerable time in their rooms’.
Caroline Roberts, Care UK’s director of quality and governance, said: “We fully take on board the CQC’s comments and want to apologise to residents and their families for the care at Mildenhall Lodge falling below the high standard that they deserve.
“When they visited in July, the CQC inspectors did note that the residents were supported by team members who were caring, respectful and engaging positively and warmly with people.
“However, we also accept the inspectors found several issues with the home including shortcomings in staff training, and teething issues with the equipment at the home – in particular the call bell system and the computerised care records.
Ms Roberts said a detailed improvement plan was immediately drawn up and its implementation is being overseen by very experienced senior managers.
“We are confident that the care delivered in Mildenhall Lodge will soon of the high standard residents are entitled to expect and we look forward to welcoming the CQC inspectors back shortly to show that this was a temporary dip in performance,” she said.
Cllr Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “Care UK has fallen short of the standards expected of them. However, it is reassuring to hear that they have taken swift, decisive action to rectify the areas of concerned raised by the CQC inspectors.
“As part of our ongoing relationship with Care UK we will work with them to make sure that the standard of care in the new homes is first class from the minute the first resident moves in.
“We expect all care homes in the county to deliver the very best levels of care to its residents. Whenever concerns are raised and standards are not being met we will take the necessary steps to ensure resident are safeguarded and that improvements are made as quickly as possible.”