Watchdog condemns ‘outdated’ care

Inspectors find cause for ‘serious concern’ at seven homes run by Atlas Project Team, including three in North Devon.

A health watchdog has criticised “old fashioned” care for people with learning disabilities following a series of inspections at 14 homes, including three in North Devon.

The Care Quality Commission said it is taking action to protect those who have been living in services operated by Atlas Project Team Ltd after concerns were raised following an inspection at Veilstone care home in Buckland Brewer last October.

Since then unannounced visits have been made to numerous homes run by the company, with “serious concerns” raised at seven premises including the Gatooma and Santosa homes in Holsworthy.

The CQC said a further six were not fully compliant with essential standards of quality and safety. It also had concerns about one supported living service. One Atlas service was fully compliant with all the essential standards.

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The watchdog said it had been working closely with councils and NHS organisations to monitor the homes and to ensure people living there were not at any immediate risk of harm.

The alarm was raised when inspectors found an unheated and unsuitable “quiet room” at Veilstone was used to keep people in overnight. The CQC said this “did not uphold peoples’ right to dignity, privacy and independence.”

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In a statement released today (Wednesday) Ian Biggs, Deputy Director of CQC in the South said:

“It is quite clear the services run by Atlas Project Team Limited have been stuck in the past. The vulnerable people they were supposed to be protecting have not been getting the care they need.

“Our inspections found the services have been taking an old fashioned approach to care, with a strong emphasis on behavioural management and the routine use of physical restraint.

“Peoples’ behaviour appears to have been managed rather than understood. Staff had not always received training about the Mental Capacity Act or deprivation of liberty procedures and no external agencies had been involved in any consideration of liberty deprivations.

“The best that can be said of the model of care is that it is outdated. We cannot allow this to continue.”

He said action would be taken to protect those who depended on such services and that while the CQC could not go into more detail at this stage for legal reasons, a full report would be published in due course.

* In a statement, Atlas said it had notified police of safeguarding concerns at Veilstone Care Home in October 2011 and has been supportive of the CQC’s unannounced inspections of 14 homes in Berkshire, Hampshire and Devon.

“We acknowledge that the CQC have raised concerns about the standards of care in the homes and identified areas of practice that are not acceptable and that need to be changed,” it said.

“The company has appointed Adept Residential Care Ltd (Adept) as the senior management team of the organisation during the sale process of Atlas to Adept.”

It said Adept was aware of the continuing investigation and would be working closely with all multi-agency partners and the police.

A review of current practice would be undertaken and a programme of change implemented, it said, adding that Atlas would continue to work closely with all agencies concerned to bring about changes to improve the standard of care currently offered and restore the confidence of the authorities.

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