Kent care agency where one staff member 'didn't know what an infection was' shut down

A general view of the Henley Close in Chatham showing the road sign - the company was registered in this street
-Credit: (Image: Google Street View)

A failing care agency in Kent has been shut down by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after providing a woefully bad service to people in their own homes. Hands of Compassion Care in Chatham has been stripped of its registration with the health and social care watchdog, the CQC.

It had been given numerous warnings about the need to improve - and it would now be an offence if it ran the service. The phone number for the limited company was dead today when KentLive tried to get in touch, and our email more than 10 days ago about the damning report published by the CQC went unanswered.

The service, run out of Henley Close, which gave personal care to people in their own homes, was rated "inadequate" and it had breached the Health and Social Care Act in many areas. It has also failed to act on red flags raised by inspectors at the previous visit.

In one eye-opening example, inspectors said a member of staff did not know what "infection" meant during a discussion with inspectors who were assessing knowledge about the risks in relation to catheter care.

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The report said: "When we asked 1 staff member about the signs of infection for a person they supported with a catheter they responded, "Infection. What is an infection? Is it Covid? They did not have sufficient use of English to understand basic questions about potential risks."

And three staff who were looking after people using a catheter had not received training. Employees were also cutting short visits to people, only staying for 14 or 16 minutes, when the allotted time was 30 minutes.

"In one person's care plan it had been recorded that they liked to chat with people. However, these short visits evidenced that staff did not sit and talk to people for a meaningful length of time to ensure their well-being."

When the service was inspected in February, it was rated "requires improvement" and it breached staffing regulations. The company drew up an action plan to show how it would improve.

But the CQC said at the inspection in September, with the report published last month, it found the company had not done all the things "they said they had done". Another startling finding was people using the service were "at risk of harm" because the giving of medicines was not done properly, including dosages, where to put creams, and missing information about side effects.

In the case of people with diabetes, staff were not always guided on how to look for signs of someone who had too much or too little sugar in their body. Staff were also supposed to look for signs of depression in one person at each visit, yet there was no guidance on how to do that or how to get professional help.

Inspectors found "little evidence" that all accidents and incidents were fully investigated, as the company stated in its policy.

In one incident, someone had been found on the floor of their home by a member of staff. The 'cause' of the fall was put down as them "endeavouring to be independent". Shockingly, the recommended lesson from this was for the person's family to talk to them "about ceasing to be independent".

Some people wanted to talk

This flew in the face of the company's own stated values and there was no investigation into how the person could take steps towards being independent in a safe way, said the report published last month, following inspections in September.

Staff weren't recruited safely, said inspectors, as references were not verified and checked, gaps in employment history were not queried, and the provider told inspectors two new people had been employed, when in fact, there was a third person on the rota.

At the last inspection, the service was rated "good" in the area of how caring it was. But this was downgraded to "requires improvement".

Although one relative told inspectors the "carers really do care", another two relatives said only one or two were "very good". The issue of knowing the English language came up yet again in the report.

"Staff did not all have the essential communication skills they needed to support people in the way they expected. One staff had limited ability to understand and speak English. People expected that staff would be able to listen and understand what they had to say so they could be provided with the care, company and emotional support they needed.

"Some people's care plans indicated they enjoyed talking to people, others that they confused or upset. Therefore, it could not be assured that all staff had the skills they needed to provide the emotional support to these people as necessary," said inspectors.

The CQC says: "Any person (individual, partnership or organisation) who provides regulated activity in England must be registered with the CQC otherwise they commit an offence."

You can read the full CQC report into Hands of Compassion Care Ltd in Chatham here

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