TWO care homes in Chester have been placed in ‘special measures’ following damning reports by the Government’s health watchdog.

Chester Lodge on Brook Street, and Curzon House in Saltney were rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Both now have six months to make significant improvements or they could face closure.

Inspectors visited Curzon House, run by Vivo Care Choices Ltd, following a “serious incident” and concerns about prevention and management of falls.

In recent months, a number of residents were said to have suffered falls, some of whom had to be taken to A&E.

And at Chester Lodge, operated by Heathbrock Ltd, a number of “new and repeated breaches of the Health and Social Care Act” were noted.

The report summaries for both care homes, published last month, state: “The overall rating for this service is ‘Inadequate’ and the service is therefore in ‘special measures’.

“Services in special measures will be kept under review and, if we have not taken immediate action to propose to cancel the provider’s registration of the service, will be inspected again within six months.

“The expectation is that providers found to have been providing inadequate care should have made significant improvements within this time-frame.

“This service will continue to be kept under review and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.”

Curzon House can accommodate up to 35 adults who need residential care and who may also be living with dementia.

In May this year, the CQC had rated it as ‘good’ – but inspectors were forced to make unannounced inspections in August after safeguarding concerns were raised.

While service users and relatives were generally complimentary about the operation and its staff, a number of issues were noted, particularly regarding falls prevention and medication.

The report states: “Records indicated that there had been a high number of accidents sustained by individuals while using the service over recent months.

“Some of these falls had been unwitnessed and some of these falls had occurred in people’s bedrooms.

“Some accidents had resulted in people being admitted into accident and emergency.

“The registered provider informed us subsequent to the inspection that a new system for identifying trends and patterns was to be introduced.”

It continued: “Our records outlined that a safeguarding concern had been raised since our last visit in respect of medication. This related to people who received respite care.

“One person had not received medication prescribed to them.”

The home has now addressed any issues with prescriptions, which has been confirmed by the council.

Chester Lodge Care Home, which can house up to 40 people, had been rated as ‘requiring improvement’ in March this year.

Its latest CQC report states: “At the last inspection… we asked the provider to take action to make improvements in regards to safe care and treatment, capacity and consent and overall governance.

“These actions had not been completed.”

Residents and family members described the service as safe and praised staff, but inspectors concluded that “risks to people’s health and safety were not always identified, assessed or managed”.

Among the concerns were:

l A number of people at risk of malnutrition or dehydration

l People not always receiving medication as it had been prescribed

l Medication not always stored in a safe and secure way

l Accidents and incidents not effectively monitored

l Some call bells out of reach and inaccessible

The report continued: “There was a strong unpleasant odour throughout many areas of the home including some bedrooms. The premises were visibly dirty in some areas with sticky surfaces, debris on the floor, dusty fans and vents.”

According to the CQC’s website, there are currently four care homes in Chester under special measures.

The others are Curzon Park Residential Home and Crawfords Walk, which were both rated ‘inadequate’ in June this year.

Formerly run by Bupa Care Homes, Crawfords Walk in Hoole is now said to be under new ownership. It was featured in an undercover investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches in June.