By Kris Jepson

Exclusive: The Care Quality Commission has downgraded the rating of Allied Healthcare’s Middlesbrough service from “Good” to “Requires Improvement”, following an inspection in November.

The social care regulator brought forward the inspection after receiving “a number of safeguarding concerns which had been raised about the service following the closure of their Redcar branch”.

One former Allied carer told ITV News Tyne Tees she reported a series of safeguarding concerns to every level of management at the company, “with nothing done”, so she took her complaints to the CQC. She alleged that people’s lives were being put at risk, saying “at its very worst, it could possibly have led to death”.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

These historic cases were reported to the CQC through Allied Healthcare’s in-house safeguarding procedures at the time they arose. Each was investigated fully and subsequently declared as resolved and closed by Allied Healthcare before the business’ takeover. At the time, the previous owners acknowledged that there were challenges in maintaining consistent rotas for care workers at certain times. Allied Healthcare was taken over in November 2018. The new Allied Healthcare is working with its new owners to deliver quality care across the country. It is not currently operating in Redcar and Middlesbrough.

Allied Healthcare Spokesperson

Speaking exclusively to ITV News the former Allied carer said “the staffing issue was so bad at one point, we had people coming from out the area from agencies who didn’t know our customers”.

At its very worst it could possibly have led to death. There were incidents where people with dementia were able to get out of their homes at night time. It was only because neighbours had spotted this person doing this that she was able to be brought back safe, otherwise it could have led to her being out of the house all night. There was people taking medication when they didn’t really have the capacity to be doing so and it should have been in locked boxes. Things like this were reported and reported and reported, with nothing done, to the point where we would report to coordinators, to management, to regional management, right up to head office and then up to CQC.

Former Allied Healthcare Carer

The home care provider in Middlesbrough had its rating downgraded in all areas, including safety of service, effectiveness of service, how caring the service is, how responsive the service is and how well led the service is.

The CQC found that Allied Healthcare Middlesbrough had breached two national regulations involving “safe care and treatment” and “good governance”, because it:

  • did not ensure that care and treatment was provided to service users in a safe way

  • did not have suitable systems in place to assess the risks to the health and safety of service users of receiving care or treatment

  • did not have suitable systems in place to ensure the proper and safe management of medicines

  • did not have the effective systems in place to assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of the services provided. Quality audits were not being carried out in accordance to the providers own quality assurance standards

  • did not maintain accurate and contemporaneous records in respect of each service user, including record of care and treatment provided to the service user and decisions taken in relation to the care and treatment provided.

Redcar & Cleveland Council Credit: ITV News

At the time of inspection on 1 November, the CQC says 168 people were using the service; 153 people living in the Middlesbrough area and 15 in the Redcar area.

Most of the care packages in the Redcar area had already been removed by the local authority, who were forced to step in to provide care during the August Bank Holiday weekend after Allied allegedly failed to service 190 home care visits.

We had to find new care agencies and often new care workers for people. Now that, first of all, has two facets. Problems for us, organisationally, but secondly real discontinuity and loss of a familiar face possibly for a person who relies on that individual to provide his or her social care in the home.

Cllr Dave Walsh, Redcar & Cleveland Council

The previous inspection that took place resulted in a rating of “Good” in April 2017. However, the today’s CQC report stated “at this inspection we found the service had deteriorated and rated the service as requires improvement”.

The CQC gave Allied 48 hours notice before sending in the inspectors. The CQC report acknowledged that the provider had “started to make improvements”. It stated that office management felt “things had settled down” after most of the Redcar packages had been removed by the local authority and that supervisors felt that the current workload was now “manageable” and they could now “provide the care people needed”.

Mike Bailey Credit: ITV News

ITV News spoke to two families who had lodged safeguarding complaints to the company and the CQC.

Mike Bailey, from Marske, said his wife, Christine, who has terminal cancer, was visited in July by a carer who was drunk. Mike says he had little respite as he had to monitor the care his wife was receiving.

She could not string two words together. I thought she was having some sort of attack when she was here. I spoke to Allied about it and it became a safeguarding issue with social services, but about seven to eight days later she was rota’d to come and visit again and I wouldn’t give her access to the premises.

Mike Bailey, Former Allied Customer

Mike said he had little respite as he had to monitor the care his wife was receiving.

He said “depending on the carer, it got to the stage where I used to stand in the doorway and watch them. You would have to go in and probably do extra things that they hadn’t done. They’re not dealing with people, they’re dealing with a product and that’s the attitude. You can actually see it. It’s ‘what’s good for us’.”

Margaret Clarke Credit: Family Photo

Margaret Clarke told ITV News her mother-in-law, also called Margaret, was left in an unlocked house following a visit from an Allied carer.

Margaret Clarke has vascular dementia and is now in a care home.

Margaret was let down by Allied Healthcare. A carer that came, once he’d provided her meals, he left her house without locking the door. She’s not allowed out the house. She has to be locked in at all times, of which the company know about and the carers know about. Then we got a phone call at 10 O’Clock at night saying that Margaret had gone wandering around the close. Then we actually found the carer coming back at quarter to eleven at night to try and put Margaret to bed. Of which we told him there was no way he was going in the house, we’d seen to Margaret, we’d put her to bed. She’s all settled and we will be contacting the company… Sometimes the care packages were not followed, as in Margaret had to be showered at least twice a week. She wasn’t showered twice a week and we found sometimes she’d maybe only had a sandwich at dinner time and then a sandwich at tea time. Allied were trying to get the carers to come in earlier on an evening to put her to bed, which we felt really more annoyed about because we thought would they try this on with somebody that is mentally still capable of saying I don’t want to go to bed? So, the boundaries in the care package were just getting pushed all the time, just that little bit further.

Margaret Clarke, Former Allied Customer