Firm that provides at-home care for people with a range of health conditions failed to ensure staff were competent, watchdog says

By Nick Statham

A firm that provides at-home care for people with a range of health conditions failed to ensure its staff were competent to do so, a watchdog has found.

Assured Care (Stockport) Ltd looks after more than 200 people with conditions including dementia, eating disorders and learning disabilities.

But it has now been ordered to improve following an inspection of its services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

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A new report says the provider ‘had not ensured staff had the necessary, up to date training in place before providing care and support to people’.

And, perhaps more worryingly, it found that the provider had ‘not satisfied themselves on an ongoing basis that staff providing care and support were competent to do so’.

Officials have given the service - based at Armstrong House, Swallow Street - an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ after finding shortcomings in the ‘safe’, ‘effective’ and ‘well led’ assessment categories.

It was judged to be ‘good’ when it came to being ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’, however.

But inspectors said they were ‘unable to ascertain if safe recruitment practices had always been followed to ensure that suitable staff had been employed to care for vulnerable people’.

The report adds: “We reviewed information in staff files to check the necessary safety checks were in place before starting work.

“We found two out of the three staff reviewed did not have professional references nor have a full employment history. We requested this was followed up and we received confirmation.

“However, we did not receive the requested follow up evidence."

This was not the only way the service was found to not alway be safe.

The provider had not always ensured appropriate risk management plans were in place to mitigate risks to those it cares for.

For example one person had pressure sores and there was no risk management plan, care plan or positional charts in place to ensure staff provided safe and appropriate care.

And risk assessments were not always reviewed and updated as people's needs changed to reflect current care needs.

Despite assurances that assessments were reviewed every three or six months for people with moving and handling needs, inspectors ‘did not find this system in place in the care files we reviewed’.

On a more encouraging note, however, officials received ‘mainly positive feedback from people who used the service about the care they received.

People said they felt safe, and that staff read them their care plan and always wore personal protective equipment (PPE) when visiting them.

Policies, procedures and audits were all found to be in place - albeit they had not always been followed.

Overall inspectors identified that there had been three breaches of care regulations.

The firm has now been asked to provide a report outlining what action it will take to put things right.

The CQC will check this has been put in place and continue to monitor the service's performance, together with the local authority.

Assured Care (Stockport) Ltd has been contacted for comment.

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