St Michael’s Manor/Mount – Woolton


I wonder how bad a care home has to be to have definitive action taken against it. I came across this story in the Liverpool Echo referring to St Michael’s Manor Nursing Home in Woolton, near Liverpool.

The home received ‘zero stars’ for food hygiene. The article explains that milk had been left out of the fridge for over a day and that dairy products were not kept in appropriately temperate-controlled environments. One doesn’t have to be a genius to appreciate that this could actually be very dangerous in a nursing home environment.

The inspectors found

A fridge-freezer was faulty, staff were not fully trained or supervised and stock rotation was inadequate.

Inspectors said they had “no confidence” in management, saying there was: “Poor track record of compliance; little or no technical knowledge; little or no appreciation of hazards or quality control; no food safety management system.”

The listing on the Liverpool City Council website can be found here.

The article goes on to relate an unconnected story about the same care home where a resident, Mary Potter (89) died in 2008 ‘after being hit by chunks of plaster when the lounge ceiling collapsed.’ Not only that but  – ‘It emerged there was a flood in the room above the ceiling a few days before it collapsed.’

Now, a jury gave a verdict of accidental death in this case and that’s fine and well but it does leave an uneasy feeling about whether the death could possibly have been prevented.

Back to the food hygiene issues though, for me, one of the most telling aspects of this is that it was the not the CQC (Care Quality Commission) that picked up these serious and major failings but the local authority food hygiene inspectors.

I decided to look up St Michael’s Manor on the CQC website.  The only care home in Woolton that it may be seems to be listed as ‘St Michael’s Mount’ – but on the basis that it is the same location, same postcode and has the same owner, I can only assume there may be some discrepancy in the name listed between the Liverpool City Council website and the CQC website.

The concerning thing is that this home managed to be ‘excellent’ and receive three stars which remain evident on the CQC website despite the fact that these ‘star’ ratings are now defunct.

So did things change so much that the CQC inspectors weren’t able to identify issues that the food hygiene inspectors slated so categorically?

If I were living in Woolton and looked up the CQC website I’d be delighted that a home such as this exists so locally.

What  kind of consistent service of inspection and regulation can be CQC provide and what lessons does this teach us? Rhetorical questions for the moment but it leaves a taste of very sour milk in my mouth.

3 thoughts on “St Michael’s Manor/Mount – Woolton

  1. It does sound bad and certainly shows up the deficiencies of CQC inspection and the star-rating system. BUT, I don’t think it’s possible to be sure what the home is like from these two incidents. We don’t know how the milk was found, what it was for, who was responding to the inspector, what was going on in the home at the time. (Of course it shouldn’t have happened and people should have responded better – but does it mean that no-one cares or takes care?) Likewise the plaster accident – we just don’t know – and the inspection report will not help. (It shouldn’t have happened; old plaster does fall after a flood and can be lethal, and it could/should have been predicted.) But this is why inspection has to be so much more than ticking boxes and forming a risk profile and awarding stars. Prospective residents want to know what the place is like, what the people are like. The inspector needs to know the place intimately and, in making a judgement, must not be constrained by attempting to compare this home with others. The inspector should be making that judgement against principles and accepted standards, not against other homes.

  2. I was also wondering about previous inspection reports on St Michael’s Mount, so I went and read them all, and it would seem that there were serious problems identified from 2004 right through to 2007. Same manager throughout, it appears.

    2004: when there were 14 areas identified whereby St Michael’s Mount was not complying with the Care Standards Act. And that was apparently the 3rd inspection report in which a requirement was made for the registered person to comply.

    Many staff working without CRB clearance certs; overseas employee with no passport details on file; gardens unsafe. Manager was then choosing to work 66 hours a week and thus cutting down on the number of first level nurses, but placing herself and her residents at risk.

    2005: Recruitment highlighted again – 3 staff with no CRB; overseas nurses employed as carers, but no audit trail of how they gained entry to the UK; difficult to evidence their clinical competencies but the manager authorised in writing their RN status to the NMC; vetting and recruitment standard seen to have deteriorated since last inspection; manager was unaware of POVA online checks; unacceptable recruitment practices; gardens still unsafe for residents; only one domestic on duty; home untidy and dirty. Conservatory roof requiring attention so as to avoid flooding.

    2006: again, staff working without CRB/POVA clearance; gardens still unsafe; one domestic on duty; must employ more domestic staff to keep home tidy and smell-free; by the second inspection in 2006 things had improved all round.

    2007: investment is required in furnishings and decor; health and safety issues require to be addressed including work to improve the floor and the storage facilities within the kitchen; improvements seen in recruitment, training and appraisal.

    2009: suddenly a 3-star excellent rating. (Different Inspectors, of course, but nevertheless a dramatic improvement.)

    My (homegrown!) logic tells me that to improve the quality of care provided to residents in care who are mostly paying far more for that ‘residential care’ than they have ever spent in their whole lifetime(s) on ‘comfort’, each and every care home provider needs to invest, must be required to invest, and must be seen to invest into each and every care home they provide. Cut the profit, cut the bank balance – just invest in the quality of care provided, and that includes facilities, furnishings, decor, activities, staff salaries, staff training, resident and staff fulfilment. And, dare I say it: resident and staff ‘happiness’. A Cameron-word that perhaps should enter the dictionary of care. Maybe the financial accounts of care homes need to be made available, showing income and outgoings, profit and loss, investments and improvements, money spent on … … …

    You asked how bad a care home needs to be before definitive action is taken: it depends what type of action you mean, and how you define definitive. In my experience, ‘badness’ will always be covered up, whitewashed out of existence, kept concealed, veiled behind that ‘No Secrets’ policy (a misnomer, if ever there was one!). Someone dies as a result of the care home’s badness, the care home provider’s badness, the local authority’s badness, the CQC/CSCI badness – and who cares? Not the world within the confines of all those mighty mouses! And that’s what they are – powerful, squeaky-clean mice.

    The only people who really care are those who have suffered that badness of care, and their relatives. And who cares about them?

    With apologies for hogging your blog-space! Please edit!!

  3. John, that’s a fair point. I put 2+2 together and made 5 but overall, I think I was just trying to express my frustration in the winding down of CQC on-site inspections.
    Care in the UK – I didn’t edit because I think you make very good points!

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