Stafford nursing home wins extension appeal just days before being rated inadequate by CQC

A Stafford nursing home won a planning battle to create additional bedrooms for people with dementia just days before its services were branded inadequate by inspectors.

Rowley House Nursing Home in Rowley Avenue, Stafford.
Rowley House Nursing Home in Rowley Avenue, Stafford.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an unannounced visit to Rowley House Nursing Home because of concerns about safe care and treatment of residents. The service has now been placed in special measures.

One resident with dementia had drunk hand sanitiser and no action had been taken to seek medical advice or reduce future risk, the CQC’s report revealed. It added: “During our inspection we saw 11 bottles of hand sanitiser around the area this person was spending their time unsupervised by staff.

“We raised this with the provider and registered manager who told us they were not able to move the hand sanitiser as staff required access to this. It was only on our insistence that this was removed. This meant it took 18 days for action to be taken to keep this person safe.

“We have identified breaches in relation to people’s safe care and treatment, safeguarding, staffing staff training and competency and the oversight of the home at this inspection. This is the home’s fifth consecutive rating of less than good and fifth consecutive breach of regulations in relation to people’s safe care and treatment and the oversight of the service.

“We will keep the service under review and, if we do not propose to cancel the provider’s registration, we will re-inspect within six months to check for significant improvements.”

Last year Stafford Borough Council refused permission for an extension to the Rowley Avenue home after concerns were raised that it would be “dominant and overbearing”. A neighbour who objected to the plans for the first-floor extension said he would be like a “goldfish in a bowl” because residents would be able to see into his conservatory.

An appeal was launched and the committee’s decision was overturned by a planning inspector. The planning appeal decision was published just days before the CQC’s inspection report.

Planning inspector Helen Smith said: “Noise disturbance and light pollution from the nursing home has been raised as an issue. However, there is no substantive evidence that there would be a material difference from the existing situation.

“Concern has been raised about whether the development would result in over-intensification of the site. However, the proposal would maintain a similar footprint to the existing ground floor building, and I have found that the availability of outdoor space would remain acceptable.

“Its overall height would be subservient to the main building. Therefore, the proposal would not erode the sense of spaciousness of the site or its ability to serve the needs of its residents.”

The extension is set to provide extra bedrooms at the home to meet local demand for care of people with dementia.

But a nearby resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We have very real concerns for the safety of existing residents.

“Expanding the care home to accommodate a significant number of dementia patients will only increase the risk to the safety and care of all residents

How can it be that the planning permission has been granted to expand an already failing care home with such a poor track record?”

A spokesperson from Rowley Care Limited, which runs the home, said: "We are very disappointed with the outcome of our recent inspection and have worked tirelessly to make improvements and to change our systems and processes to ensure we are fully compliant with the Health and Social Care regulations.

"We have appointed a new manager and continue to work closely with the local authority, CQC and our senior staff during this time. We are committed to providing quality care within our service."

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