A RESIDENTIAL home outside Harlow, specialising in the care of individuals with dementia, has been told it needs to make improvements after inspectors found residents’ independence was limited reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Cunningham House, located in North Weald can accommodate up to 54 individuals. At the time of the latest inspection in November, there were 20 people living at and receiving care from the service.
After its previous inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in September 2022, the ‘safe’ criteria of the service was rated as ‘requires improvement’ due to a number of breaches of regulations. This included poor management of residents’ oral hygiene and ineffective monitoring of nutrition and hydration levels.
Although during the latest inspection this rating improved to ‘good’, the key areas of ‘responsive’ and ‘well-led’ remained as ‘requires improvement’, meaning that the provider, The Abbeyfield Society, had not ensured sufficient progress had been made.
The inspection report stated that people living at Cunningham House “were not always supported to have maximum choice and control over their lives and staff did not always support them in their best interests.
“People continued to feel that they were not supported to maximise their independence.”
Speaking to inspectors, one resident said that although their care plan stated their preference for rising between 8am and 9am, they were often woken by night staff as early as 4am in order to be assisted in washing and dressing for the day. They said: “I would be happy to sleep for an extra hour, but I don’t think (the care staff) would let me.”
Cunningham House’s management team said that they were not aware of this practice prior to the latest inspection, but that they would implement more stringent monitoring processes to ensure residents would have their preferences respected.
Another service user told inspectors that they regularly received help when showering, even though their care plan detailed that they would prefer to wash independently. The inspection report noted that “people’s needs were not at the heart of the care provision”, and that their “wishes regarding personal care and support were still not being respected”.
However, relatives of those living in Cunningham House said: “The staff are incredibly patient and kind, despite challenges with communicating (with their family member).”
Inspectors said that there had been a noticeable improvement in the staff culture at Cunningham House, compared with the previous inspection finding that “staff did not always feel they were treated equitably”. Instead, “feedback about the management was overall positive. Staff felt there was more support available to them now after a period of instability in the home’s leadership, which had negatively impacted on morale and culture”.
Although inspectors identified that staff morale was improving, there were still “continuous shortfalls in the monitoring and oversight of practice in the home”.
In a statement given to LDRS, a spokesperson from The Abbeyfield Society said: “The Abbeyfield Society is committed to providing the highest level of care for those who choose to live with us, and we take our CQC inspection outcomes very seriously.
“Whilst the home requires improvement overall, it was rated ‘good’ in the ‘safe’ category and two previous regulatory breaches have been removed from the report.
“Going forward we are committed to working with CQC to make the relevant improvements as highlighted in the inspection report to ensure the home meets the high standards The Abbeyfield Society expects.”