STOW Healthcare has built its reputation on turning around failing care homes.

And in Halstead's Attwood's Manor they chose a very big project.

In July 2017, the home was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission, and placed back into special measures for the second time in a year.

Inspectors found staff were failing to protect medicine, drugs were going missing and residents were left in soiled clothing.

Essex County Council soon withdrew its support and the home was put up for sale.

Residents were close to being turfed out of their homes, which is when the Suffolk based care business stepped in.

Stow Healthcare's managing director Roger Catchpole said: "We started looking at the opportunity in the early part of last year. We were made aware it was up for sale.

"When we finally managed to complete a deal to buy the property it was days away from having to be emptied.

"The home had a range of difficulties and there had been chronic underinvestment over the years."

Initially stepping in on an interim basis, the company was given permission to complete its takeover in May, after which the home was renamed Halstead Hall.

Since then progress has been fast - a new manager has been appointed, a deputy manager has been promoted and staff have been recruited from the surrounding area to bolster the ranks.

Mr Catchpole said: "There have been some very good staff here in the past, but they had they had not been given the right resources.

"We now have a very strong team in place. The key thing in the care sector is getting the staff right."

Renovations are planned for the premises, with work having already been done to make the home more suitable for residents.

But the company wants to make the home less care home and more boutique hotel.

A coffee lounge was opened by Halstead Town Mayor Andrew Munday earlier this month - not something you see in many residential homes in Essex.

Operations director Ruth French said: "We want people to walk into out homes and think it is not what they were expecting."

Mr Catchpole added: "We need to be able to provide a quality environment and facilities which are fit for purpose.

"There is an existing planning consent for a derelict building at the edge of the site.

"It has suffered from several arson attacks since we have been here.

"We are looking to turn it into a specialist dementia care centre. We think that will be a really positive improvement for the area."

But unfortunately it isn't just physical problems with the premises the company has had to address.

Attwood's Manor built a unwelcome reputation in the area - and people's opinions could prove the most difficult job to change.

"The main reason we changed the named was after speaking with the staff we felt the home needed a fresh start," Mr Catchpole said.

"It will take time to change peoples perceptions and to get the facilities how we need them, but things are already progressing well."

Plans are also being explored to create new links with Halstead's community, and make the care home somewhere residents want to visit again.

Ms French said: "We have reached out and we are in discussion with the library about working with them to bring in community groups.

"We plan to reach out to the schools and work closely with the town council."

Mr Catchpole added: "We want to be an active part of life in Halstead and a resource the community can use.

"We are putting our financial resources behind it to make the home a benefit to the community rather than a blight."

If anyone can do it, Stow Healthcare surely can. The company's track record and experience at homes across Suffolk shows this.

Mr Catchpole and Ms French were both named on Care Home Professional list of 50 Leaders in Care and the company and its staff have won a string of national and regional awards too.

Ms French said: "The staff are really excited by the potential of Halstead Hall and excited to work for Stow Healthcare because they have heard about our reputation."

They've a history of turning "inadequate" homes into "outstanding" ones.

With a CQC inspection anticipated in the next five months, the company's work will be judged sooner rather than later.