CARE homes are essential in ensuring those who cannot look after themselves are given all the assistance they need to lead as fulfilling a life as they can day to day.

Care homes and their staff do all they can so residents are happy and well supported, with the Care Quality Commission – the independent regulator of health and social care in England – regularly inspecting services to make sure they provide care of the requisite standard.

But not all care homes fulfil their legal duties in ensuring the elderly and vulnerable are looked after properly.

When inspectors' findings are published the findings can be shocking. The CQC offers support to the homes to help them improve. 

Here are some of the care homes in north Essex which have been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

Foxburrow Grange, Ypres Road, Colchester

Foxburrow Grange, which charges residents £1,400 per month, had received two good ratings in each of its previous inspections in 2020 and 2017, but a report from earlier this year identified major shortcomings in the service.

Specifically, staff were said to lack support when it came to recognising and de-escalating signs of distress among residents, and distributions of medicines took place on an ‘as and when required’ basis, with some prescriptions not given to residents because they were asleep.

The quality of leadership at the care home was also scrutinised, with no analysis having been carried out to try and decipher if there was a link between the 12 falls which were recorded in January and February this year.

Gazette: Concerning – inspectors found that leaders had failed to identify trends which could have links between a number of falls recorded at the homeConcerning – inspectors found that leaders had failed to identify trends which could have links between a number of falls recorded at the home (Image: Google)

Responding to the publication of the report, Piotr Rejek, the chief executive and board member of Outlook Care, which runs Foxburrow Grange, spoke of his disappointment after the report was published.

He said: “We are extremely proud of the service we provide and what I can say is that we will not rest until everything the CQC has identified has been rectified.

“From the day of the inspection the action plan has been put into effect and we have submitted it where most of the issues raised have been actioned.

“We look forward to a reinspection and our priority as an organisation is to provide safe and good quality care.”

Read the full Gazette report on Foxburrow Grange here.

Nayland Lodge, Mile End, Colchester

Nayland Lodge which looks after those with learning disabilities, and mental illness, received an overall rating of inadequate in February after an inspection took place in December last year.

It was the fourth inspection in a row the service had failed to achieve a good rating.

During the inspection, staff told inspectors they locked themselves in the office due to risks from people living at the service, with the safety and leadership at the care home given the lowest possible rating.

The report found staff felt unable to manage people who were in extreme distress and presenting a risk to others, with residents staying in their rooms out of fear.

CCTV was also found to be used without the permission or residents.

Gazette: Inadequate – inspectors reported that dirt and dust were found in the medication room and that soap dispensers were emptyInadequate – inspectors reported that dirt and dust were found in the medication room and that soap dispensers were empty (Image: Google Street View / Pexels)

Responding to the CQC’s findings, Karen Reed, the director of Nayland Lodge, said the management team is working to make improvements to the management structure so the rating could be improved at another inspection in the near future.

She said: “Obviously, management is extremely disappointed regarding the report and have already made significant improvements in our system processes to ensure our paperwork is compliant.

“We are working hard with our regulator who acknowledges that the care given to the service users at Nayland Lodge has never been in question, and has always been rated good.

“Whilst we are disappointed, we are working hard to rectify the failings identified by the CQC report.

Read the full Gazette report on Nayland Lodge here.

Tendring Meadows, The Heath, Clacton

The Tendring Meadows Care Home in Clacton was inspected by the CQC last year, with a report then published in January.

Since then, the CQC has served a fixed penalty notice of £4,000 on Archangel Healthcare, which is the care provider for Tendring Meadows.

The home cares for residents who have dementia, learning disabilities and mental health conditions, but the report identified serious concerns about the risk of patients choking, along with numerous other failings of care.

The inspection found numerous cases of residents’ privacy and dignity not being upheld, with relatives of residents saying their loved ones’ belongings – such as clothing and glasses – had gone missing.

The recent rating means it is now the third consecutive inspection where the home has been rated as either inadequate or requiring improvement, by the CQC.

At the time, a Tendring Meadows spokesman said the report was not an accurate reflection of the care provided at the home as the inspection took place during a Covid-19 outbreak.

He said: “[The outbreak meant] that our ordinary functions including visiting and group activities were not able to be completed as it would outside of these exceptional circumstances.

“Although we do not feel that this accurately represents the care provided to the individuals that live within Tendring Meadows, we do acknowledge there are areas of significant improvement to be made in the service.”

Read the full Gazette report on Tendring Meadows here.

The Oaks Residential Care Home, Great Bentley

Inspectors described the premises at the Oaks Residential Care Home as “unclean and unhygienic” when they visited in February.

The facility, which at the time of the inspection was caring for 21 residents including some living with dementia, had received a good rating two years ago after previously being told it required improvement.

But the most recent inspection saw the home given an even worse rating, with officials deeming it was inadequate for failing to meet the needs of people using the service.

Gazette: Damning – inspectors said the home 'compromised people's dignity'Damning – inspectors said the home 'compromised people's dignity' (Image: Google Street View / Care Quality Commission)

The cleanliness of bathrooms was also criticised, with the regulator finding “organic matter” under bath chairs and commodes and on toilet brushes.

One staff member told the inspectors “There are not really enough staff”, while a relative of a resident pointed out: “The staff let you in and out, then you don’t see them much.”

The care home did not respond to a request for comment when approached by the Gazette.

Read the full Gazette report on The Oaks Residential Care Home here.