‘It’s crazy’: Patients ‘at risk of abuse’ at Rochdale’s Direct Health service, warns care watchdog

Rochdale’s care service Direct Health are not ‘safeguarding people who use the service from abuse’ and must take action, according to a report.

An inspection conducted by the Care Quality Commission, found that patients were ‘not protected from the risk of abuse, because the provider had not taken reasonable steps to identify the possibility of abuse and prevent abuse from happening’.

The service was being investigated for a second time after a review in November 2013 identified significant concerns with the care on offer.

These included issues regarding people’s care and support, late and missed visits to users as well as staffing levels and turnover in staff.

Rebekah Field, Director of Operations for Direct Health, stated that changes would be made as a result of the report and admitted to inspectors that the information received was accurate.

“Since the inspection in November and the visit in March, which was to review one area of concern, we have worked closely with both the local authority and the CQC, which has acknowledged the progress made in addressing all concerns,” she said.

“Specifically, we have contacted all customers to review the services they receive from us, recruited more staff and invested in a new, rigorous staff training programme.” 

However, the recent visit conducted in April interviewed staff during the inspection who criticised the lack of support offered to them.

Particularly new staff as many expressed their concern over the way the service was run.

One member of staff told inspectors they felt constantly rushed by the whole setup.

“I don’t know what you are doing from one day to the next due to rotas always changing,” they said.

“I feel upset and panicky about having to rush between visits.

“There’s not always helpful information available in people’s homes.”

Another person said about staffing: “It’s crazy, people are leaving, they are fed up.”

The report found that a lack of care meant people were potentially placed at risk or received unsafe or inappropriate care and support.

The earlier report, published in December 2013, found that standards were not being met in all six areas inspected.

Areas of criticism included people’s care not being reviewed, patients were at risk of abuse, staff were not skilled or experienced enough and an effective system to assess and monitor the quality of service was not in place.

The report also found that while some of the care was described as ‘superb’, weekend care provided was ‘hit and miss’ and that the quality of the care was ‘inconsistent’, with users needs not always appropriately met.

One of the members of staff the CQC spoke with said that the management of the service had been ‘chaotic’.

Inspectors found that the care records held at the office were incomplete and disorganised and that they did not provide care staff with detailed guidance on how care should be delivered.

Following the visit Rochdale’s Direct Health sent the CQC an action plan detailing the action they were to take to make the necessary improvements which was to be achieved by March 31, 2014.

The inspectors required that Rochdale’s Direct Health must take action to meet essential standards.

Direct Health, which has several regional divisions across the country, specialise in the provision of home care and domestic support ranging from shopping and meal preparation, assistance with health needs and mobility and palliative care.

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