You will probably be aware of a report on BBC’s Inside Out programme last night which highlighted recent failings at a number of residential care homes in Bristol run by Mimosa. Care is graded by the Commission for Quality Care inspectorate according to four categories, ranging from poor, or zero-rated, at one end, through adequate, good to excellent at the top end of the spectrum.
The first point to make is that all four of the homes run by Mimosa in Bristol in which we place residents, are currently rated either ‘adequate’ or ‘good’.
What the programme highlighted was failings found during inspections either earlier this year, in the case of Honeymead, or last year – December 2008 in the case of Sunnymead Manor – which is currently rated ‘good’ by the CQC.
I fully accept the findings of the CQC that care fell below an acceptable level and, as happens when a home is rated poor, the council:
Suspended further placements until the home had been re-inspected – usually within six months – and the rating improved
Worked with Mimosa and the CQC to implement an action plan aimed at addressing the failings
Spent days in the homes checking progress, interviewing residents and observing
Held monthly meetings with the homes involved to review and update the improvement action plan
During the investigations and during every monthly meeting, the risks to residents were assessed
If a particular resident was deemed to be at risk because, for example, their needs were beyond what the home could offer, we would offer the resident a placement elsewhere. The need for this did not arise.
In his letter, Mr Steve Norman highlights allegations of bullying at Kingsmead Lodge. It is true that a number of former care workers at Kingsmead came forward with serious allegations, some of them of a criminal nature. However, the police carried out a thorough investigation and no charges were brought.
With regards to Sunnymead Manor, I did indeed visit the home with the Leader of the Council in March this year because I was extremely concerned about its poor rating. I make no apology for that. I wanted to see for myself what the home was like and what action was being taken to
What I found was that a new manager was now in post who had a very clear plan for tackling the failings identified by the CQC. My impression, which was reported by the Evening Post at the time
(10/3/09), that there was “a strong will to improve things”, was subsequently borne out by the CQC which re-inspected in April this year and which rated the home as ‘good’.
I do not wish to suggest that I, or the directorate, are in any way complacent about the issue of care at these homes. The level of care which we expect – and residents and their relatives have a right to expect – fell to unacceptable levels. The situation in all of the homes has now improved considerably but I expect Mimosa to continue to work to improve the level of care at present and I will insist that we continue to monitor the homes to ensure that they do so.
I do not believe the situation at present warrants our ceasing to place people at the care homes run by Mimosa, not is this supported by the recent findings of CQC. And to remove residents from what is their home and their friends is not in their interests. At Sunnymead, for example, CQC found that staff were “friendly, polite and caring in their approach”. CQC also reported that during their visit in April, a number of relatives of residents “sought them out” to praise the care received, with one describing herself as “extremely happy”.
In summary then, the action we have taken with Mimosa and the CQC has addressed the failings which the BBC – and Mr Norman – have highlighted. We will continue to monitor the situation at these homes very closely.