Elderly people were 'at risk of avoidable harm' because of failings at Niche Care Wakefield, CQC say

Elderly people reliant on a Wakefield homecare agency were left at risk of avoidable harm, a damning report has concluded.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 4:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 4:28 pm

Patients using Niche Care frequently experienced missed or late calls and staff were not sufficiently trained, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.

Niche Care's Wakefield office, which is based in Horbury, has been rated inadequate following its first ever inspection.

It is the third local care provider to receive such a grade in the last month.

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The agency was inspected in January of this year.

Niche Care said its Wakefield branch was now delivering "good quality care" after the company was taken over by a large provider six weeks ago.

In a report highlighting multiple failures, the CQC said people using the agency were unhappy with an "unreliable service".

Inpsectors, who visited in January before the provider changed hands, said: "Calls to people were sometimes cut short and staff did not have enough time to travel to the next person. Visits were frequently late or sometimes missed.

"This impacted negatively on people's wellbeing and safety."

The report also said that, "There were not enough staff to meet people's needs in a timely manner, and staff turnover was very high."

Inspectors said that patients, their families and staff "overwhelmingly" suggested that the leadership of the service was poor.

"People and relatives felt care staff were kind and caring, although they had little confidence in the management of the service," the report added.

One family member even told inspectors that one carer had "left the front door open" after leaving the home of a bedbound relative, adding, "One time the gas was left on".

The CQC said that travel time was often not factored into home visits, meaning staff were frequently driving at times that had been allocated for caring for clients.

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Niche Care said: "The pandemic has created challenges for many care providers, particularly around staffing and morale.

"The CQC inspection, carried out five months ago, was reflective of a service that was struggling to keep pace with the pressures placed on care providers.

"The Niche Care Company was acquired six weeks ago by Hales Group, a large organisation who have been delivering good quality care in the Leeds area for many years.

"The Wakefield branch is today delivering good quality care to a high standard."

The Rotherham-based firm added: "This is a positive move for the residents of Wakefield who have already seen the many investments in resources, training and support to ensure the local team are working to the regulatory and professional standards that care users should expect.

"We are working closely with Wakefield Council and looking forward to the next CQC inspection in order that this can be demonstrated."

Local Democracy Reporting Service