Shefford care home placed in special measures following ‘inadequate’ report – despite residents’ praise

The Birches care home in Shefford, which inspectors have deemed inadequate. Picture: Google Street V

The Birches care home in Shefford, which inspectors have deemed inadequate. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

A care home in Shefford has been placed in special measures following a damning report from inspectors, despite warm praise from its residents.

The Birches Residential Home, which is run by Central Bedfordshire Council and located off Hitchin Road, has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission, and could face closure in 12 months if improvements are not made.

The home, which cares for up to 31 patients living with physical disabilities or dementia, received ‘inadequate’ ratings for safety, effectiveness and management – with slightly better ‘requires improvement’ grades for care and responsiveness.

Inadequate is the lowest of four possible ratings, given when the service is performing badly and action has to be taken.

A CQC team of two, which visited the site on June 27, found that incidents and accidents were not always treated as safeguarding concerns – meaning that external organisations were not informed of them.

Among other things, it was found during the visit that the registered manager had not been at the site for at least three months – and the home had not submitted sufficient statutory notifications regarding this.

One resident’s risk assessment documentation stated they had fallen once since January, but incident reports revealed they had actually had five falls.

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Another person had two falls recorded in the same amount of time, when they had actually had 10.

The inspectors found that risk assessments were not always up to date and reflective of recent developments such as falls, and that the recording of medicines was inadequate and included errors.

Patients were not always involved in making decisions about care, and activities did not reflect individual hobbies and interests.

But feedback recorded from the residents themselves was overwhelmingly favourable.

One resident said: “I feel very safe here, there has never been a problem.”

Another said: “I couldn’t get anywhere better. There’s lovely staff to care for me.”

The inspectors noted that there was “a positive and open culture at the service”, and that “staff were motivated to meet people’s needs and

believed in the ethos of the service”.

The Birches was rated ‘good’ when it was last inspected by the CQC in March 2015.

Julie Ogley, Central Bedfordshire Council’s director of social care, health and housing, expressed shock after the report’s publication last week.

She said: “I was surprised and very disappointed by the inspector’s conclusions, as residents in the home and their relatives speak positively about the kindness and dedication of the staff.

“We are confident that at no time was the immediate care or safety of residents at risk, but we accept the inspector’s findings and are taking immediate action to address the failings identified.

“We are meeting with residents and relatives to explain the actions we have already taken and our future plans.”

CQC inspectors will visit The Birches again within six months to check whether improvements are being made.