Care home residents over-medicated and unlawfully restrained, CQC report finds

Vulnerable residents at Berkeley House were over-medicated and unlawfully restrained, according to a damning report seen exclusively by ITV News Meridian.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the human rights of eight residents - who require around the clock care, were not upheld and the leadership of the provider Achieve Together was inadequate.

The report comes just months after ITV News Meridian revealed that residents living at the Sittingbourne care home were given just five hours notice by the provider to move out.

Michael Wakefield has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experience at Berkeley House.

His father, Graham Wakefield, said: "You try and read it dispassionately but you can't help thinking my son was in the middle of that.

  • Graham Wakefield, Michael's father says he wants individuals to be held accountable

"It almost reads like something you would read from care homes in developing countries", he added.

"We sat here writing emails or on the phone to management to try and get them to improve the resources in Michael's house because we could see he was suffering as a result of not enough staff.

"Michael had a good life there, but now his life is in pieces."

Illustration of CQC Report into Berkeley House care home in Sittingbourne Credit: ITV News Meridian
Some of CQC inspectors' findings at Berkeley House care home in Sittingbourne Credit: ITV News Meridian

Michael's mother Yola Wakefield, added: "They took away his dignity, his confidence, his human rights, absolutely his human rights, and they wrecked everything.

"We have to start again helping to rebuild his life from scratch almost."

  • Yola Wakefield feels no consideration was given to patients

The watchdog also details how loose sheets of paper were stapled to people's daily records, which contained significant information.

One stated: 'Awake all night. appeared very unsettled throughout the night. He has been banging his head against the wall, clapping and making series of noise. He just became settled at 07:05am.'

Inspectors found no further action taken or referral to a healthcare professional.

The report, which is in the public domain, also found people's medicines were not being managed safely. It says: 'One person had 'as required' (PRN) medicines prescribed to support them to manage their behaviours of distress. The guidance for this medicine states that it should only be administered when they were agitated or aggressive. Records showed, and staff confirmed that they were administered this medicine twice daily, and the administration of the medicine was not linked to any incidents of distress.'

The watchdog found some residents at Berkeley House were given medicines they did not need Credit: ITV News Meridian

Paul Green believes the report is referring to his son Lawrence.

"These are residents with no voice, that can't express themselves and can't tell people what's going on., he said.

"It's just horrible because that takes his personality away and he's got a lovely personality and he's been drugged the whole time.

"I was really shocked to find that out, and I only found that out through social services, not through Achieve Together.

Lawrence Green with his sister. Credit: ITV News Meridian

"I found it out just about the time the report came out and when the closure happened he did seem to settle down quite quickly into his new location and that could've possibly been because the drugs were still in his system."

Inspectors also found six breaches of the Health & Social Care Act, but because Berkeley House is now de-registered, no further action can be taken by the CQC.

It's prompted families to call for urgent changes to prevent the provider Achieve Together from operating a care home ever again.

Hazel Roberts, CQC's head of Inspection for adult social care, said: "We absolutely take on board the views of the families and this terrible situation that them and their loved ones have been put in.

Berkeley House care home in Sittingbourne Credit: ITV News Meridian

"We want to make sure that no care service provides care that falls below the standards that we would expect.

"Although we have no regulatory remit over Berkeley House because its closed, we're working closely with Achieve Together's leadership team to ensure this doesn't happen again."

The families believe the findings at Berkeley House have striking similarities with former care homes run by Achieve Together.

Edd Church made public more damning inspections of homes run by Achieve Together - this time, in Cornwall, last year.

It prompted the company to pull out of the area altogether after Cornwall Council threatened to revoke its 'right to care'.

He said: "There were issues with people getting the wrong medication, too much medication or not enough medication.

"The problem was not particularly with individual staff being bad at their jobs, it was that there weren't enough of them and the ones that were there, were inadequately trained. Seemingly, from what the report says, because of mismanagement."

A spokesperson for Achieve Together told us: "For over 25 years we have been committed to delivering specialist care and support and this is reflected in 92% of our services being rated Good or Outstanding, significantly above the national average.

"However, we sincerely regret that localised recruitment challenges at a very small number of our services have contributed to services being below the high standards that people rightly expect, and we wholeheartedly apologise for this.

 "Since the CQC inspection of Berkeley House in October, we have taken all feedback extremely seriously and we are clear that lessons have been learnt.

"We will continue to do all we can to build and improve on these learnings, whilst working closely with the people we support, their families, local authorities, CQC and other stakeholders to ensure people receive the care they deserve."