Elderly 'left hungry as care home tried to cut down on shopping bill'

Staff at Lyndhurst Lodge in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics, told inspectors they had resorted to buying snacks for residents out of their own pockets because of shortages, the health watchdog the Care Quality Commission said.

The home was issued with a formal warning after a highly critical inspection report also found that it was so short-staffed that at times there were not even enough on hand to help frail people to the lavatory.

Inspectors also reported seeing dirty toilets, broken furniture and found residents were not even dressed in clean clothes while staff had “very limited” training in safeguarding.

There was no budget set aside to provide stimulating activities for the residents, many of whom suffer from dementia, forcing relatives and staff to help out from their own pocket, the report adds.

While morale among the staff was “very, very low” and they privately complained of little support from managers, families of the residents told the CQC that the workers themselves “deserve a medal”.

The home, which caters for 19 elderly people, fell short in three out of the five key inspection areas: providing care that meet people’s needs, safety and staffing.

The owner, Keith Halliwell, has been ordered to report back to the CQC within seven days on what steps are being taken to improve.

Inspectors carried out a an unannounced visit in April amid concerns that the residents were not getting enough to eat.

They found that, while the elderly people themselves did not complain, the staff did have concerns.

Residents were given a light meal at dinner time, often just a sandwich, with nothing else available until morning, according to the watchdog.

“Staff at the home told us that they regularly run out of food,” the report notes.

“They told us that they do not think people get enough choice of food and that there is very little offered to people who use the service in between meal times.

“They told us that, ‘It's as though they are trying to cut the shopping bill’.

“Sometimes staff bring in snacks for the residents.

“We reviewed the meal logs at the home and observed that the evening meal is often a sandwich or light hot meal.

“This was provided to people at 5pm and no other food was offered to people until breakfast the following day.

“The impact of this was that staff were bringing in food paid for themselves to give to residents in the evening.”

The CQC said the home had failed to protect people from hunger or dehydration.

The inspectors noted that staff were struggling to meet even the basic needs of residents.

“One person needed to the use the toilet and staff were not able to respond in a timely manner to that need due to dealing with other residents at that time,” they reported.

They added: “There was no clear structure for activities within the home... staff stated that they did not have a budget for activities and would rely on staff members and relatives to help provide provisions for activities.”

The report goes on: “We observed that some people who used the service were not dressed in clean clothes.

“The impact of this was a lack of dignity and respect being shown to people who used the service.”

Edward Halliwell, the owner’s son, who is a director in the home, denied that staff had had to bring in food – adding that he had questioned them and they had apparently denied telling the inspectors.

“I don’t believe it to be true, I’ve asked the staff to provide me with the receipts and will reimburse them and none have come up yet.

“I’ve seen no evidence of it, the staff have all denied saying this as well, I’m happy to invite the papers to come up and see the home.

He added: “II think somebody has made it up without pointing the finger at anybody.

”I would be surprised if CQC would make it up – the staff have said it but they all denied saying it, I’ve asked each one of them ‘which one of you has brought food in?’

“The residents seem happy and everything else was dealt with in the correct way.”

He declined to comment on other aspects of the report.

Andrea Gordon, CQC’s deputy director of operations, said: “Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find that the required progress is not made we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers to protect the people who use this service.”


Sourced from The Telegraph, 7th June 2012.