Two care homes in Kettering and Northampton have recently been inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the independent regulator of health and social care in England and have both been rated as ‘requires improvement.’
The role of the CQC is to monitor, inspect and rate services. Following their inspections, which can be unannounced, the CQC publish their findings online. The CQC inspected Bethany Homestead in Northampton on 13 May 2021 and Claremont Parkway in Holdenby, Kettering on 9 March 2021. Both reports have only just been published this month.
Poor record keeping and choking risks
The CQC report on Bethany Homestead raised amongst other concerns, the fact that the care needs of residents were not always recorded in their care plans. In the report on Claremont Parkway CQC inspectors identified concerns regarding choking risks.
Shoosmiths, sadly, is no stranger to cases involving these particular and repeated failings. Sarah Cunliffe, a solicitor specialising in care home abuse and neglect cases, has dealt with a number of cases where issues with care plans and choking have resulted in the death of elderly residents, particularly those who suffer from dementia and therefore require even greater vigilance.
Choking risk magnified by inadequate care plan
For example, Mrs Jane Olive Parker, a 68 year old who had dementia, choked to death in 2016 after being given an inappropriate meal at a care home. Mrs Parker had had a number of food related choking incidents and the speech and language therapy (SALT) team had advised that she be on a modified diet of semi-solid, soft or pureed and easily digested food. Mrs Parker was however offered a choice of soup or chicken nuggets and chips for her evening meal. She chose the latter and was left to eat unsupervised, contrary to her care plan. Mrs Parker was discovered 40 minutes later unresponsive.
“As Mrs Parker’s dietary needs were not correctly recorded in her care plan this resulted in an increased risk of her choking to death – it was a tragedy just waiting to happen.”
Poor record keeping contributes to sub-standard care
The same inadequate record keeping and lack of supervision contributed to the death of Irene Collins from asphyxiation. In this case, also handled by Sarah, the care home failed to update the care plan and risk assessment following carers witnessing Mrs Collins putting a number of objects into her mouth. Mrs Collins, who also had dementia, died as a result of putting a latex glove into her mouth. This was another tragic case which could have easily been prevented had Irene’s care plan and risk assessment been updated. Had these steps been taken, then the carers would have known they ought to be more vigilant and aware of her tendency to put inappropriate objects in her mouth.
“Both of these cases highlight how important care plans and risk assessments are. Whilst fortunately at both Bethany Homestead and Claremont Parkway no resident has thus far come to any harm, it is important that the homes quickly respond to the CQC’s findings. All residents should have care plans and those plans should be regularly reviewed and where appropriate updated. Staff should all then be made aware of the contents of those documents.”.
The CQC will now meet with both Bethany Homestead and Claremont Parkway to discuss what steps they will put in place to improve their services and their CQC rating. The CQC will also monitor their progress.