Dirty underwear mixed in with kitchen laundry and crying residents being ignored were just two of a catalogue of shocking failures found at an inspection of a Huddersfield care home for OAPs.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have issued enforcement action against Helme Hall and Helme View home in Meltham following a litany of unacceptable incidents this year.
The damning report by the health watchdog has revealed that residents, many of whom are suffering with dementia, were being neglected by a “chaotic” and inexperienced workforce.
On a visit in June a shocked inspector witnessed a resident being hit in the head with a walking stick as two pensioners argued at the dinner table.
The inspector had to intervene in the row as no staff were present.
Heavily soiled underwear was found to have been washed among kitchen tea towels.
Medical records were incomplete, one of which indicated a patient had only been given their pain relief 19 out of a prescribed 108 times.
Mouldy bread was found in the kitchen, while so called “Do Not Resuscitate” forms for some residents were found in a dining room cabinet drawer among the knives and forks.
The CQC inspector said a number of the residents were losing weight as the food was “awful” but no-one was monitoring their nutritional needs.
Other incidents include; clothing including underwear being found in the wrong resident’s wardrobe, and distressed and crying residents being ignored by staff.
The inspection of the Helme Lane home did not get off to a good start after the staff lost the keys to the care records cupboard.
The CQC inspector also claimed they had to alert a nurse to a senile resident who was choking on a piece of meat.
A relative of a resident who tipped off the Examiner about the poor report described the home as “disgraceful” and said she would be moving her family member to a different facility.
Directors of the homes have apologised for the poor care but say they dispute some of the allegations, including the choking claim.
Diane Jones, chief operating officer of Hennessy Group, said she and her co-directors had fired the then manager, reported themselves to the CQC and gone in to the home to do a “hands on” turnaround of the business.
She said: “We let the residents down and we let their families down. We’re all devastated, but we have massively turned it around. There were some failings and they’ve all been dealt with.
“We’ve changed a number of things to make sure everyone is safe.
“There’s no safeguarding actions against us and we do now have the right manager in place as well and several new members of staff.”
Ms Jones said the CQC had caught them on a bad day, just one day after they had brought in a manager from another one of their homes.
“That shift was doomed to fail,” she said. “What the CQC saw on that day was not reflective of our performance on a regular basis.
“There were issues with laundry and medication, where things had not been recorded properly.
“A number of members of staff have been dismissed and we did have a lot of agency staff in on the day of the inspection.
“Staff have been disciplined and retrained and we got evidence of the problems from families.
“We’ve got nothing to hide.”
Ms Jones said they had recently met Kirklees Council’s monitoring team and other local health and social care agencies and had fully satisfied them that the home was safe.
Debbie Westhead, the CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care in the North said: “We carried out an inspection at Helme Hall and Helme View Care Home in July 2014 and found a number of concerns regarding the provider’s failure to meet the needs of people living at the home.
“We have told the provider very clearly that they must take action to improve standards.
“In serving Warning Notices we have signalled to the provider that the service provided at Helme Hall and Helme View is simply unacceptable”.