SHOCK REPORT: Heavy-handed Chesterfield care home staff caused distress to disabled residents

  • Government report reveals a catalogue of shock failings at St Joseph’s care home in Chesterfield
  • Home is currently closed after inspectors blast it ‘inadequate’
  • Chesterfield businessman James Hill insists he had no involvement in the running of the home
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Staff at a Chesterfield care home caused distress to disabled residents by using physical restraint, according to a damning report.

Health watchdogs have judged standards at St Joseph’s Specialist Care Home in Newbold Road to be ‘inadequate’ following unannounced inspections in January which highlighted a catalogue of failings.

The home’s five residents – who have learning difficulties – were moved to alternative accommodation at short notice last month after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns following another unannounced check on Monday, May 11. A report of that inspection is due to be published soon.

In its report of the January checks, the CQC ruled the service was not safe, not effective, not consistently caring, not responsive and not well-led and breached 10 regulations under the Health and Social Care Act. The CQC had told the home to make urgent improvements by March.

The home is currently closed.

The report, which has just been published, stated: “During our inspection we found examples of where staff had restrained people without following appropriate guidance and without consideration of the emotional or psychological impact this had on them. There was no evidence to demonstrate that staff had given people the opportunity to discuss these events or offer support after incidents of restraint. Staff had not recognised the distress caused to people by physical restraint and so had not acted in a caring or compassionate manner by trying to minimise the occurrence of such incidences.

“During our inspection we found some people using the service had been restrained by staff with restrictive physical interventions (RPI). RPI was being used by staff to restrain people in the service when their behaviour was causing a risk to themselves or others. Guidance for one form of RPI used in the service stated it should only be used as a last resort. One person had been restrained on 11 separate occasions over a period of five months using this form of restraint.

“We found that one form of RPI used in the service required three members of staff for it to be used safely. We found that this RPI had been used on people using only two members of staff on four separate occasions.

“Appropriate procedures were not in place for dealing with emergencies that could be reasonably expected to arise from time to time. There were no plans to detail what steps staff should follow to maintain each person’s safety in the event of an emergency where evacuation of the premises may be required.

“Systems for the safe management and administration of medicines were not in place. Some people were prescribed medicine ‘as and when’ they required it but there were no guidelines in place to ensure staff administered this medicine consistently.

“Some staff told us they had regularly been working in excess of 40 hours a week. For some staff, on some occasions, they had worked more than 70 hours in one week. Staff told us they did not have sufficient time to keep accurate records. The manager told us that there was not always a second member of staff available to sign as a witness to the administration of certain drugs.

“Recruitment practices were not robust and staff started work before Disclosure and Barring Service checks had been received. Staff did not receive supervision as often as required and appraisals were not always fully completed.

“We observed there was no hand soap in communal toilets. We asked the manager about this and they told us they were looking to find suitable soap dispensers that would be strong enough not to get broken. In the meantime the manager was advising people to wash their hands using the kitchen sink. This was not a suitable arrangement.

“Some people told us they felt the management style was not open and approachable.”

The report added: “People were supported to make healthy living choices. We could see that people’s views and preferences were understood by staff. People’s independence was respected and supported and people took part in activities. People were supported to gain confidence through participating in activities with staff support and motivation.”

St Joseph’s is privately run by Aspire Specialist Care Ltd.

Chesterfield entrepreneur James Hill, who appeared in BBC show The Apprentice last year, resigned as a director of Aspire Specialist Care Ltd in September 2014 – several months before the inspection – to pursue other business interests.

The 28-year-old said that since his resignation he has had “no involvement in any capacity in the affairs of Aspire Specialist Care Ltd or in the conduct of its business, operations of the home or its residents”.

His current position is one of investor and shareholder.

Mr Hill confirmed that the home’s services were suspended on Wednesday, May 13 and that he had attended the premises to assist with its temporary closure.

The CQC did not close the home but is “in the process of deciding what will happen regarding the service’s registration”, a spokesman for the watchdog said.

They added: “There are no people currently using the service and we have imposed a condition to prevent new admissions.”

In a statement last month, Mr Hill said: “All residents were relocated on a temporary basis so that their immediate wellbeing, care and support can be catered for.

“I will be working tirelessly with all stakeholders and authorities to ensure that all matters are fully investigated and seek to achieve a positive outcome for the benefit of the residents and their families.”

The website of Aspire Specialist Care Ltd states: “We cater for adults with learning difficulties who may exhibit challenging behaviour. We offer a warm, welcoming and enabling environment for our citizens.”

• A 49-year-old man, of Matlock, was arrested on suspicion of assault on Wednesday, May 13. He was bailed pending further inquiries on the same day and investigations are ongoing.