Stevenage healthcare inspection raises concerns over safety and staff shortages

Allied Healthcare Goldsborough, which is based at Abel Smith House in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo

Allied Healthcare Goldsborough, which is based at Abel Smith House in Stevenage. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

An agency which cares for vulnerable people in their own homes has been providing a service which is not always safe and does not always meet people’s needs due to staff shortages, according to a healthcare watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission inspected Allied Healthcare Goldsborough in Stevenage in January and, in a report published on March 14, gave the service an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ – with concerns over the safety and management of the service. ‘Safe’, ‘responsive’ and ‘well-led’ categories were all rated as requiring improvement, while ‘effective’ and ‘caring’areas were considered good.

Allied Healthcare Goldsborough currently provides personal care to 548 adults with learning or physical disabilites and older people, including people with dementia, who live in their own homes.

The CQC inspector found the agency had no registered manager and failed to operate effective systems to meet people’s needs and reflect their preferences, which is a breach of the Health and Social Care Act.

Staff shortages meant an inconsistency of carers, who regularly turned up at people’s homes early or late, and calls requiring two carers were sometimes carried out by just one person.

Medicine errors were not always identified by monitoring procedures and the service was not consistently well-led, the inspector said.

The CQC report said: “Due to staff shortages, the manager used agency staff, but the provider had not ensured people’s preferences with regard to their call times were respected and there was an inconsistency of staff to support and care for people.

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“The service was not always consistently safe and there was not enough staff available at all times to meet people’s needs.”

Systems for monitoring quality and identifying required improvements were not always effective, the inspector said.

However, people said they felt safe using the service and were treated with dignity and respect, with the inspector recognising staff received appropriate training.

The report concluded: “Although people were happy with the care provided by staff, they were not always happy with the times of the calls and we found some people were left feeling anxious about who was coming and at what time. This was a breach of the Health and Social Care Act.”

A spokesman for Allied Healthcare Goldsborough said: “The CQC found the service in Stevenage to be ‘effective’ and ‘caring’, with both indicators rated as ‘good’ based on feedback from those receiving care.

“We are working with the CQC to address the recommendations set out in its report, ensuring that we continue to deliver on our commitment to high quality continuity of care.”