Bring Private Care Homes Back In-House

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‘I STRONGLY believe that care homes should be taken back under local council control,’ GMB rep Dianne Wragg said yesterday.

Wragg is the lead steward for the care workers branch of the GMB for the Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region. She was responding to a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into a private care home in Derby.

The report exposed appaling practices at the home run by Aspire Specialist Care Limited. Vulnerable disabled adults were sworn at, ridiculed and inappropriately physically restrained. The care home had no toilet seats or soap in the downstairs toilet and one of the fire exit doors ‘did not open’.

Dianne Wragg continued: ‘Private companies are not properly regulated or have regular enough inspections, the quality of care that is provided is not to the same standard as the council. Private nursing homes or care homes are a business, they operate more for profit than care, profits come first and care comes second. In any care home that is under council control the quality of care is second to none and there is an extremely high standard of training. Private care is sub-standard.’

Residents at the care home in question, St Joseph’s Specialist Care Home in Chesterfield, Derby, had to be swiftly moved following the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection. The care home was closed down and a 49-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault.

The newly-published CQC report rated the service as ‘inadequate’. It said people living at the home were ‘not protected from abuse that could potentially breach their human rights’. Concerns raised include:

• ‘Inappropriate physical restraint practices’

• Some staff swore while working with people

• Insufficient numbers of staff to ensure people were not at risk

• No toilet seats and no hand soap dispensers for all the downstairs toilets

• A fire exit door would not open, putting people at risk

• A large hole in the medicines cupboard, potentially giving access to unsecured medicines.

‘During our inspection one person disclosed to inspectors and the provider that a member of staff had ridiculed them,’ the report states.

Unite rep Duncan Walker commented yesterday: ‘Private care homes must be taken in back in house and run by the local councils.’

Walker who is the Unite Community Union secretary for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire added: ‘Not only do council care homes provide better care the staff are paid decent wages and have better conditions. We still have a couple of council care homes in Stoke, but the vast majority are now privately run.

”In the private care homes that have been taken over, staff are at best on minimum wage. Staff are on zero hours contracts and that leads to a knock on effect where the morale suffers and that leads to patient care suffering.’