Standards at a care home are still below minimum requirements four years after it tried to suppress a health authority investigation into complaints against it.
A report of an unannounced inspection carried out in July at the home, Lynde House nursing home in Twickenham, south west London, shows that a series of improvements must be undertaken within five months for it to meet minimum legal standards.
The commission for social care inspection (CSCI), which regulates care homes, also says that some of the reforms had been ordered in previous inspection reports and should have already been completed.
The conclusions of the report come after a letter was disclosed under the freedom of information act that showed the home’s solicitors threatened to sue the south west London health authority if it published its 2002 report into complaints by residents’ relatives. The FOIA Centre has been helping relatives to obtain official documents relating to the home.
Lynde House’s solicitors also threatened to sue the independent consultant commissioned by the heath authority to conduct the investigation. The health authority still published the report, although it was delayed by five months, and WHC never began proceedings over it.
That report made a series of damning findings ab-out Lynde House, saying that it “allowed insufficient levels of staff to operate on occasions,” and, “allowed inadequately trained staff to undertake the care tasks and procedures required.”
The home was owned at the time by Westminster Health Care (WHC), whose chief executive was then Dr Chai Patel, who is close to the Blair government and who is one of the businessmen embroiled in the “cash-for-honours” affair. He was one of the Labour donors nominated for a peerage, but the appointments commission objected to his nomination.
Lynde House was one of three WHC homes that were the subject of an expose on standards in 2001 in the Sunday Express.
WHC was later bought by Barchester Healthcare, one of Britain’s biggest care home operators.
A spokeswoman for Barchester Healthcare, which bought WHC in 2004, told the Daily Express, for an article published in August about care homes and FOIA, that CSCI had indicated to the home that an unannounced inspection report due imminently was “incredibly positive”. She said. “It’s a good example of something that’s been turned around hugely.”
“When Barchester took over Westminster, there was a period in which they had to really bring up the standard of a lot of Westminster homes to a standard that they think is appropriate.”
However, that report of the inspection has proved not to be as “incredibly positive” as claimed.
The inspection examined 24 standards set out in the ‘national minimum standards for care homes for older people’ and found that the home met 14, but identified major shortfalls in two relating to resid-ents' care plans, and minor shortfalls in a further eight.
It ordered 14 reforms to be completed by the end of next month to bring the home up to statutory minimum requirements. Of these, said the report, three should have been completed by March, and another one by July last year.
The report says, for example, that the home must complete improvements to daily records and that this should have been done by July last year.
The home has, however, improved. The report says: “Improvements have been made in care planning, however, this must be continued to make sure that all needs are identified and reflected in care planned.
“Daily records are now starting to include specific details of care given. Requirements made in relation to medications at the previous inspection have been addressed.”
It continues: “Staff files examined were noted to include all the required information in the standards and regulations... Improvements have been made to training records.”
And the report praises the senior management for continuing “to work proactively with CSCI to make sure that standards are met.”
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