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St Elizabeth's Care Home with Nursing: CQC inspectors again rate it as 'inadequate'



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A care home for severely disabled adults, set to close at the end of November, has been rated 'inadequate' by a health watchdog for a second time.

A report published on Wednesday (August 3) by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) confirms St Elizabeth's Care Home with Nursing at Perry Green, near Much Hadham, remains in special measures.

Despite the problems, on Tuesday (August 2) families of the residents announced they were taking legal action to block the closure. They accuse trustees of St Elizabeth's Centre of breaching the human rights of 83 people set to lose their homes in four months. Some have been at the centre for 40 years.

St Elizabeth's Centre at Perry Green (58412198)
St Elizabeth's Centre at Perry Green (58412198)

The charity also runs a residential school and college for children and young people with epilepsy and other complex conditions. These are unaffected by the closure plans announced last month.

The adult home can provide nursing and personal care to up to 110 people with epilepsy, associated neurological disorders, learning disabilities and other complex medical conditions in 11 bungalows and three single-occupancy flats, within a campus-style community.

It has been in special measures since March, following an inspection in November 2021, when the CQC identified concerns about people's safety and standards of care being provided.

St Elizabeth's summer fayre. (58412070)
St Elizabeth's summer fayre. (58412070)

At the same time, the watchdog also scrutinised the performance of St Elizabeth's Domiciliary Care Agency and identified the same shortcomings.

The supported living service provides personal care for people with learning disabilities and autism on both the college site and in individual flats.

The CQC returned to St Elizabeth's in June and July to reinspect both services and assess whether improvements had been made. Again, they found "widespread areas of concern".

As well as being rated inadequate overall, both services were rated inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led.

St Elizabeth's charity shop in Florence Walk, Bishop's Stortford (58412067)
St Elizabeth's charity shop in Florence Walk, Bishop's Stortford (58412067)

The trustees of St Elizabeth’s issued a statement on July 21 announcing they will close the care home on November 30 because of continuing staffing shortages.

They said: "It is heartbreaking to have to take this step, but any reduction in the quality of our care is simply not in keeping with our ethos and is a long way from the type of service we have made our name in providing."

The decision is a nightmare for families, who have told the Indie they have no real hope of securing suitable alternative accommodation and support for their loved ones. Almost 3,800 people have signed a protest petition against the closure plan.

Care Quality Commission
Care Quality Commission

They are lobbying for the home to remain open and be improved. It was previously rated 'good' by the CQC.

Louise Broddle, CQC head of inspection for adult social care, said: "Following the inspections in November 2021 we gave feedback to the provider identifying areas where significant improvements were needed to ensure people's safety and quality of life.

"At our recent inspections, although we found that some improvements had been made, there continued to be a lack of focus on people's quality of life and we identified continued concerns in relation to people's safety. There was a continued lack of person-centred care at both services.

"We are mindful of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the staffing shortages within the care sector on social care services. We took account of this when considering what action was necessary and proportionate to keep people safe as a result of our inspection findings.

"The response from leaders of the St Elizabeth's Centre was not sufficient in developing the strategies and systems needed to improve people's care or to address the issues relating to the culture of the service.

"We understand that the announcement of the closure of St Elizabeth's Care Home with Nursing will be causing anxiety and uncertainty to people using the service and to their families, and we would encourage people to use the support and advice being offered by St Elizabeth's and by the local authorities involved to understand their options.

"We will continue to monitor both services and to work with the provider and local authorities to prioritise the wellbeing and safety of people using the service."

The latest inspections found:

  • There weren’t enough appropriately skilled staff.
  • The culture of the service was not in line with good practice for services for people with a learning disability and autism.
  • People’s care plans didn’t always reflect their needs, preferences and aspirations.
  • Residents were not always supported to have choice and autonomy over their day-to-day lives.
  • Decisions that restricted people were not always made in their best interests.
  • Risk assessments were not always current or accurate.
  • Accidents and incidents were not always followed up and learned from, which meant people continued to receive poor care.
  • Management had not addressed safety concerns in a timely way.

However:

  • The leadership of the services had been open and honest about the findings of the recent CQC inspections and had communicated these with staff, people living at the service and their relatives.
  • Staff felt supported by managers.
  • The leadership were working closely with other professionals to help provide improved support to people.
  • Inspectors received positive feedback from several of the people living at the services and their relatives.


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