Unsafe care home near Potton goes bust before inspectors' damning report
PUBLISHED: 08:38 25 October 2017
A debt-ridden care home between Potton and Gamlingay closed before inspectors published a damning report describing extreme safety hazards, a serious fire risk and wires chewed through by rodents.
Millfield Lodge Care Home Ltd – which ran the home of the same name off Potton Road, near Mill Hill – has been wound up owing creditors at least £1.7 million after magistrates granted the Care Quality Commission authority to cancel the provider’s registration over several regulation breaches.
The resolution to wind up the company came after CQC inspectors visited unannounced on July 4, August 1 and August 9, but before their report was published this month – giving it an overall ‘inadequate’ rating and concluding that “people could not be assured that they were kept safe”.
Day-to-day running was handled by a consultant nursing agency, which told the inspectors on August 8 that they were withdrawing because Millfield Lodge Care Home Ltd would not “support the actions needed to make the required improvements”.
There had not been a registered manager in post for more than two years at the time of the CQC visits, which came after a comprehensive inspection in April found the sparsely-staffed home to be unsafe.
The new CQC report among other things describes agency staff being forced to use their own money to buy milk for care home residents, and calls the premises “dangerous” and “poorly maintained”.
It concludes that the firm’s nominated individual, 67-year-old Anita Ram, was “not a fit and proper person to carry on the service” as she had failed to co-operate with the nursing agency she had commissioned, withheld information relating to safeguarding, and removed records and equipment from the home.
The inspectors write: “Some improvements had been made to the governance arrangements in the service and this had been entirely due to the consultant nursing agency’s input. However, the registered provider’s lack of openness, honesty and candour put people at serious risk of harm.”
The home, registered to accommodate and care for up to 31 people, had 16 residents during the July visit and 11 during the August inspections.
On July 4, inspectors checked stocks of medication for four people and found that records were incorrect for all of them – with tablets signed as administered either still in stock or missing.
On August 9, they found that there was only enough food to last until breakfast on August 11. Staff explained that they had no means to buy more food as the company had cancelled their regular payment system, and that they had bought milk for August 10’s breakfast out of their own money.
The inspectors also describe “a number of safeguarding incidents”, a visit from bailiffs to collect debt, and a significant fire risk in the loft – where about 100 bin bags of clothing and paperwork were piled up and electrical wiring had been chewed up by rodents.
Also on August 9, the visitors learned that there would be no nurses employed at the home from August 10 – meaning there would be nobody present trained to administer medication or tend wounds – and that a lack of payment to agencies would mean no care staff cover for the next week’s night shift.
The inspectors noted that three different consultancy companies had been used at the home in the last three months – all of which had withdrawn due to lack of support from the provider.
The report quotes a member of the agency team as saying: “I have never had such a difficult provider to deal with despite all our efforts to work together.”
Companies House documents show a resolution to wind up Millfield Lodge Care Home Ltd was passed shortly before midnight on September 25, and signed by Ms Ram, of Harston in Cambridgeshire.
According to a statement of affairs signed by Ms Ram on September 15, Millfield Lodge Care Home Ltd’s £1.7 million debts include a £1.5 million contingent liability to Barclays Bank guaranteeing Ms Ram’s mortgage on the care home premises, which she owns. It also owes £74,000 to the taxman.
Ms Ram owns 76 per cent of the company, with the rest split equally between Vinoy Nursiah, of St Albans, and Sunita Harley, of New Barnet.
The Comet called the care home for comment, but has yet to receive a response.