Kent care home placed into special measures and told it must improve

Woodford House in Kent was rated as inadequate by inspectors

A care home in Dartford has been placed in special measures by inspectors and told it must improve.

The Care Quality Commission carried out an inspection of Woodford House in response to concerns about people's safety and dignity.

Woodford House is a residential care home providing accommodation and nursing care for up to 39 people. The service provides support for older people and people living with dementia, as well as autistic people or people with a learning disability.

This was the first inspection of the service, which was previously rated as good, since it was taken over by a new provider last year.

In addition to being rated inadequate overall, the service was rated inadequate for being caring, responsive and well-led. It was rated requires improvement for being safe and effective.

As a result, the service has been placed in special measures, which means CQC will continue to closely monitor it, and it will be inspected again to assess whether improvements have been made.

Rebecca Bauers, CQC's director for people with a learning disability and autistic people, said: "Our experience tells us that when a service isn't well-led, it's more likely they're unable to meet people's needs in other areas we inspect, which is what we found at Woodford House. It's unacceptable that leaders allowed a culture to develop which wasn't centred around the people using the service and didn't always provide for their personalised needs.

"For example, care plans for people with mental health conditions didn't always have guidance for staff on how to recognise or prevent their distress, and the care plans of people with epilepsy didn't support staff on how to keep them safe if they have a seizure.

"We saw that people weren't always given a voice in their own care, including being involved in creating their care plans. Additionally, staff didn't always have training to support and communicate with people with autism or people with a learning disability, making it more difficult for them to support people's right to make choices in their care.

"Inspectors saw some people weren't supported to dress in their own clothes, were dishevelled, or hadn't been helped to clean their teeth for two to three days. It was also appalling that some staff would refer to people living here by their room number rather than their name. Woodford House isn't a medical setting. It is a place that people call home, and people should be supported to live with dignity and respect in a way that others are able to take for granted.

"Despite this, inspectors saw some positive face-to-face interactions between staff and people using the service. People and their loved ones said staff were kind."

The service provides support for older people and people living with dementia

The report also found the service's communal lounge was unclean and had a strong unpleasant odour.

Staff restricted some people from leaving the service despite no deprivation of liberty order being in place.

People weren't always cared for by people who knew them or the service well.  Agency staff were used but weren't always given adequate understanding of the people they were caring for or the service.

People's carers and relatives said it was challenging to contact the service and they weren't always kept informed of their loved ones' care. The service didn't always record or respond to complaints.

Staff didn't always refer to people respectfully by their name and used their room number instead. Leaders were aware of this practice and were trying to discourage it.