Chester care firm warned over staff vetting


Steve Creswell

A CARE home company has been issued with a formal warning by the Government’s health watchdog for failing to adequately vet its staff.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) served an enforcement notice on Chester-based Special Needs Care Ltd after two inspections in March.

The company, which employs about 100 people and operates homes for adults with learning difficulties, was told it had until May 21 to make improvements.

An inspector wrote: “The recruitment procedure in operation was not effective which meant people were at risk of receiving care and support from staff who may not be suitable for their role.”

However, company director Barnabas Borbely said he was confident his staff were properly trained and vetted.

He has responded to the CQC, saying the company was undertaking “a full revision of our recruitment and selection policy and procedure”.

Mr Borbely told the Leader the inspector’s report focused on hypothetical “what if” scenarios, rather than actual incidents, although he conceded that three staff reference requests had not been responded to at the time of the CQC visit.

He said: “We are confident we have addressed all of its concerns. I would say with complete confidence no harm or abuse of any sort has taken place within any of our services. We will continue to work in partnership with CQC and Adult Social Care to implement best practice within the industry.

“We are happy our staff are vetted properly and thoroughly, and are among some of the highest calibre staff within the industry.”

The inspector looked at the records of five staff, and found two had been employed without any references, and three with just one reference, which did not conform to the company’s recruitment policy.

Furthermore, “satisfactory evidence of conduct” in previous jobs had not been obtained for four of the employees.

“This meant the people who used the service where placed at possible risk from staff who may not have been suitable for their role,” the inspector wrote.

The report also states the visits had been “in response to concerns reported to us around the care and welfare of people who used the service, the management of their medication and how they were safeguarded from abuse”.

However, it later concludes that safeguarding procedures and training were good, there were no concerns over standards of care and medication was handled safely.

Employees said they enjoyed working for the company and inspectors observed positive interactions between the people who used the service and the staff who supported them.

Special Needs Care Ltd was inspected in four main areas: treating people with respect; provision of care and treatment; safety and protection from harm; and staffing.

The enforcement action was taken in relation to the staffing category, while the CQC inspector also recorded that improvements are required in the safety and protection area.

l The CQC has a range of enforcement powers to deal with health organisations that fail to act on warnings, from issuing fines and cautions to suspending or cancelling services.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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