Rated Good

The Commission for Social Care Inspection inspect and rate every registered care home in England – as well as every agency that provides care for others.  The website provides access to inspection reports on every facility in England – both announced inspections and unannounced inspections. It is our first port of call, quite literally, when we are looking to  make a placement.

CSCI introduced a rating system earlier in the year. It’s to make things easier for us to understand. Rather than ploughing through a report – you can just look at the amount of stars a home has. The more, the better. All useful stuff.

Victoria House Care Home in Durham is rated good by the CSCI. Rated good, that’s reassuring. The last available report is dated July 2007 though.

But as reported in Community Care last week, it is closing. Not only that, but according to the article

Durham Police are leading a multi-agency investigation into the care received by a man at a Darlington care home for people with learning disabilities, which is now set to close.

The 75-year-old man, who lived at the Victoria House care home, died last month from septicemia.

There are really more questions raised for me by that paragraph than answers provided. Police being involved in leading an investigation into a death in a care home? That is very far from common and exceptionally worrying.

I decided to see if I could find any more about the situation and came across a blog called Advocacy in Darlington which posts further on the matter here

Advocacy in Darlington was pleased to learn this week that after literally years of evidence gathering (which described a care regime which in the words of a Council manager in 2003 was recognised as being “moribund”), Victoria House, Barton Street is now subject to a 90 day closure notice.

So this evidence has been being collected for YEARS? That’s certainly the implication. The post goes on to state that reports had been collated both 5 and 10 years ago which had recommended closure of this property – and now residents have 90 days in which to move out. As noted by the Alton Centre situation where closure was not recommended, there have to be some quite strong grounds for a closure to be forced.

Another interesting point in the Community Care article was the statement that 19 residents will be moving out. This is from a home which is registered for 45. Quite a discrepancy. It isn’t known (by me, anyway) if there had been a freeze on placements there or whether it was just a place that wasn’t filling – but when you plan for an income from 45 residents and only have 20 – that’s a big difference – especially at a cost of £550 per week each.

So many questions and so few answers.

I went back to the Inspection Report from July 2007. Ironic that one of the recommendations was that

Greater efforts should be made to ensure all staff have mandatory
training in health and safety matters and infection control.

As well as the only standards which were ‘almost met’  as opposed to being ‘met’ are the ones relating to staffing levels. I hate to make assumptions  but cost cutting is screaming in my ear.

I haven’t been able to find out much more about Victoria House in Darlington. Amazing really that the information just doesn’t seem to be ‘out there’. I can’t imagine many people wouldn’t be interested in what had been happening here to lead to a quick closure after the death of a resident – police investigation and all.

I am concerned that, being someone who used the CSCI site and ratings to recommend placements in other parts of the country when I have no means to check them myself, I would have been reassured by the little stars and the ‘good’ rating to have followed through with a placement there when possibly there had been concerns for many years.

Why do we.. and I mean we, as a society.. allow these stories to die quietly?

Reasons to be Angry, part 16.

9 thoughts on “Rated Good

  1. Hrrm, wonder if I can get you a copy of the film ‘The Man in the Chair’ – it’s awesome and touches on the subjects you raise here.

  2. Well, you know how it is: If it doesn’t affect ME personally, why should I care?

    That seems to be dominating mindset, anyway.


  3. I wish very hard every day that the CSSIW (Welsh equivalent of CSCI) will institute a star system – at the moment we give a big emphasis to training, to quality assurance and to holistic care and we get not a jot of recognition (or God forbid, money) for it – we are rated the same as the many agencies that provide a sub standard service. The CSSIW gives them a duff report and nothing much seems to happen – I have had a clear report (no recommendations) for four years running – and I have four nervous breakdowns to show for it!

  4. I’m glad you’re reviving it, even if the story was allowed to die for a while. In a field with limited resources, it strikes me that blogging is a truly powerful tool for raising awareness. Keep up the great work!

  5. Thanks for the comments! I’ll check out that film, Arb.
    and unfortunately, Reas, that does seem to be an overwhelming feeling – I wonder if it is exacerbated during difficult financial times.
    I actually didn’t know that the star system hadn’t been implemented in Wales, Caroline. There are flaws in the star system though, as stated above but for a rule of thumb it can work – something has to need to be different about ‘good’ services. I can imagine the stress of going through the inspection system!
    and thanks, BJ!

  6. Pingback: On Inspection « Fighting Monsters

  7. I had been reporting the deficiencies of this home for over 5 years but it was seen as a ‘cheap’ alternative by the Director of Social Services and our Advocacy project was embargoed by her as a result.

    She subsequently has moved to Childrens Services in Lancashire where she is again causing mayhem.

  8. I had a look at your blog, Chris (as you see above because I quoted it) and it sounds like a stink up there to be honest. Well done for highlighting it. Government should be about serving the public. And as I said, it’s frightening that the alarm bells weren’t heard.

  9. Well actually it is a lot worse.

    Decent Social work colleagues have been systematically bullied for years.

    The former head of service walked out with an email sent to me telling me he could not take it anymore and that he had no job to go to.

    He was not the only one.

    SWs were not allowed the resources to move people out and so several have died.

    There was another home in Darlington where external bolts were placed on residents bedrooms, allegedly to protect them – how?

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