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Staff speak out about 'chaotic' Longridge Care Home

By Richard Guttridge | Penkridge | Health | Published:

Staff at a care home which closed following a series of failings have spoken out about the "chaotic" conditions they were forced to work in.

Longridge Care Home

Longridge Care Home, near Penkridge, shut just weeks after being placed into special measures for the second time in two years.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said "people have been exposed to poor care for an unacceptable amount of time" and raised serious concerns over the safety of residents and staffing levels.

Staff were given only four days' notice that the home would close on June 21, it is claimed, and they have been sent letters seen by the Express & Star saying there is not "sufficient funds to pay monies owed". Residents have since being moved to alternative accommodation.

Former floor manager Sarah Brown, who had worked at Longridge since February 2018, said "every day was a battle" for under-pressure staff.

She said: "It was chaotic. There was nowhere near enough staff for the care needs of the residents. Care staff were doing the job of two or three people, it was ridiculous. People were coming into work on their annual leave.

"The week before the care home closed I had worked 90 hours. That was a regular thing. We didn't get overtime."

In its report following a focused inspection, the CQC said "there were insufficient suitably skilled staff to meet people's needs".

Serious concerns over the safety of patients were also flagged up but Ms Brown insisted staff who were there were dedicated to caring for residents and doing the best job they could.

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Concerns over safety included a risk of scalding as water was too hot and a resident at risk of falls not being provided with a new lightbulb despite asking.

On some shifts there were as little as two carers working when "there should have been eight", it was claimed. There were typically around 20 residents staying at the home, some with conditions such as dementia.

Staffordshire County Council was forced to send in extra staff, while the home also relied on agency workers.

Ms Brown said: "The residents weren't neglected. Care staff made sure they were looked after but it was basic care. We couldn't do anything more for them.

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"They were washed and they were clean but we couldn't do any more when it was two staff for 25 residents.

"We bought residents Christmas presents and birthday presents because none of that was done. We would bring in blankets - it was like a charity."

A carer who gave her name only as Paula said: "We were understaffed. There would be two members of staff and a senior carer on a 12-hour shift and residents' buzzers would be constantly going off.

"We would say "there is just two of us, we can't do it"."

Another former carer Staci Waldron said: "It was bloody hard work, it was stressful. We just didn't have enough staff. One had a senior role and quit because they couldn't take the pressure."

The CQC had been keeping a close eye on Longridge after it was rated inadequate and placed in special measures in May 2017. Some positive change was made and the home moved up a rating to requires improvement in April 2018.

However, the home hit a new low when it was once again rated inadequate in June, prompting the focused inspection.

The watchdog said it had "received concerns in relation to the management of risks, staffing and support with people's medicines".

The directors of Longridge Care Home Limited could not be contacted for comment.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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