Care home owner says CQC rating 'killing business' amid 16 month re-inspection wait

The owner of The Swallows care home in Haverhillthat was placed in special measures more than a year ago has said a lack of re-inspection is "killing" her business <i>(Image: Google maps)</i>
The owner of The Swallows care home in Haverhillthat was placed in special measures more than a year ago has said a lack of re-inspection is "killing" her business (Image: Google maps)

The owner of a Haverhill care home that was placed in special measures more than a year ago has said a lack of re-inspection is "killing" her business.

The Swallows Residential Care Home was visited by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors on January 9, 2023, and rated inadequate, placing it in special measures.

A report published in March 2023 stated the CQC would "keep the service under review" and "re-inspect within six months" but, some 16 months later, a re-inspection has not been carried out.

Donna Burrows, who owns The Swallows with her husband Harold, said this is damaging the business, particularly as they are forced to display the rating on the home's website.

"It is killing my business, I am desperate," she said.

"I have worked so hard, myself and my husband. I just don't know where to turn now.

"I sent them the action plan and everything and we have been patiently waiting for them to come back, but I can't wait any longer.

"When people go and check on our website and see inadequate they wouldn't touch us with a barge pole."

Mrs Burrows, who comes from Guyana, said her husband, who is from Barbados and is part of the Windrush generation, is broken-hearted over the issue.

Tom Cooper, consultant at The Care Standards Consultancy, which represents The Swallows care home, said Mrs Burrows has received two emails from the CQC since the report was published.

He called the time lapsed since the inspection a "lack of oversight" by the CQC and said the residents of the home are happy, the premises is safe, staff are competent and caring and there has been just one complaint since March 2023.

Mr Cooper said the number of residents has fallen from 16 in March 2023 to just eight.

"Obviously the survival of the home is now in jeopardy," he said.

"If it goes bust the extremely vulnerable residents will lose their homes, over 20 hard working staff will lose their jobs and Haverhill will lose a valuable community resource."

The report published by the CQC after the January inspection deemed the home was inadequate in the safe and well-led categories, while it required improvement in effectiveness.

It was described as good in caring and responsive categories.

The report stated residents were "not always kept safe" and not all staff had "training in areas relevant to people's needs including their health and safety".

A CQC spokesperson said: "CQC inspected The Swallows Residential Care Home last year and placed the service into special measures.

"We were aware of the concerns raised by the provider, and we continue to liaise with the provider, local authority, and other stakeholders to ensure people are receiving safe care.

"CQC’s priority, at all times, is the health and wellbeing of people using health and social care services.

"The assessment scheduling is based on our current priorities, we continue to focus on identifying risks to people using the services. If we’re not satisfied people are receiving safe care, we will not hesitate to take action in line with our regulatory powers."

The CQC said it will aim to carry out another assessment of The Swallows care home in due course.

It said it could not confirm a date as a majority of assessments are unannounced, so providers are not notified in advance.