Darlington care home placed in special measures as CQC inspection leaves regulator 'very concerned'

As well as Middleton Lodge’s overall rating dropping from requires improvement to inadequate, so has its rating for how safe it is. Credit: PA

A care home in Darlington has been placed in special measures after being rated as inadequate.

Middleton Lodge on Station Road, Middleton St George will now be kept under close review and re-inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to protect people, with the organisation checking on the progress of improvements.

The residential care home, which is run by Potensial Limited, cares for up to ten autistic people, and people with learning disabilities.

It was inspected by the independent regulator of health and adult social care concerns received about safeguarding issues, staffing and management of the service.

The drop in rating followed an inspection from the CQC following an inspection in July.

The home's overall rating dropped from 'requires improvement' to 'inadequate', as did its rating for how safe it is.

Its rating for well-led remains as 'inadequate', and its ratings for a caring, effective and responsive service remain as 'requires improvement'. 

Inspectors found:

  • Safeguarding concerns had not been raised with CQC including three events where the police were called to the service to deal with distressing behaviour by one person.

  • Accident and incident records lacked detail and did not show what action had been taken to manage any immediate risk.

  • A visiting Relevant Person's Representative (RPR) told us they felt staff lacked training to meet their clients' needs and that risks to people were not well managed.

  • Medicines were not managed safely.

  • Care plans did not reflect peoples’ current needs and preferences.

  • Inspectors observed some behaviours and practice where staff could have behaved in a more discreet manner.

Rebecca Bauers, CQC’s director for people with a learning disability and autistic people said: “When we inspected Middleton Lodge, we were very concerned to find the provider didn’t have effective systems in place or enough oversight to ensure it was delivering high quality care.

"CQC guidance Right Support Right Care Right Culture helps us make safe assessments and judgements about services supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people. Providers must have a regard to this guidance to ensure they are providing a service where the person is put first, so it is truly person centred care and support.

“At Middleton Lodge we found the right support wasn’t always being given with people not being supported to have a maximum control of their lives.

“Right care was not always being given because care records and risk assessments were incomplete, meaning staff didn’t always have the correct information to hand on how to meet people’s individual needs and deliver safe care."

Ms Bauers added: “However, the provider was starting to create an improving culture with a new manager now in place who understood the issues the service faced and was now tackling a number of those challenges.

"The home is now placed into special measures, and we will be keeping it under close review. We are also working closely with the local authority to mitigate any risk to keep people safe.

“We will not hesitate to take further action if we don’t see significant improvement. Even if this results in the CQC taking action which results in the closure of the home."

Potensial Ltd which run the care home told ITV Tyne Tees: "We deeply regret the rating and shortcomings identified in this inspection and want to re-assure people that the statement from CQC about the ‘improving culture with a new manager now in place, who understood the issues the service faced and was now tackling a number of those challenges’ continues and remains our priority."

"A comprehensive action plan is in place and is systematically being worked through, the management team remain entirely committed to returning Middleton Lodge to its Good rating."

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