Suffolk care service is put in ‘special measures’

Drummond Court, Bury St Edmunds
Drummond Court, Bury St Edmunds

A service that provides care and support for people with learning disabilities in Bury St Edmunds has been put in ‘special measures’.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Drummond Court, a Mencap service in Mill Road South, ‘inadequate’ following an unannounced inspection in August.

Drummond Court, Bury St Edmunds

Drummond Court, Bury St Edmunds

In its report, published yesterday, the CQC states that ‘extremely high numbers of staff vacancies over the last year have not been successfully addressed and [it had] seen an increase in safeguarding concerns and alerts from people who use the service’.

It says ‘staffing levels meant people did not have enough to do and did not go out as often as they wanted to’ and, though most staff were ‘caring and compassionate’, ‘others demonstrated a less caring manner with their language and actions’.

Failures identified in the report include the service not always responding promptly to allegations of abuse and it having a ‘high’ number of errors associated with the management of medicines.

The CQC also says that staff understanding of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) ‘was not good’.

The report states: “Where people’s liberty needs to be restricted for their own safety, this must be done in accordance with legal requirements. People’s consent had not always been established in line with the MCA.”

In its summary of findings, the CQC says: “Ultimately the service has not been well led over a significant period.

“Several changes of management and a lack of consistent strategy to deal with the serious issues facing the service have led some people who used the service, relatives and professionals to lose confidence in the service.

“Very recent management changes have made significant improvements but the staffing strategy involves redeploying staff on a temporary basis which is not a long term strategy.”

A spokesman for Mencap said: “We haven’t delivered the quality of service to the individuals living in Drummond Court that we would expect.

“We apologise unreservedly to each of the people and their families for this service failure. This has been due to poor leadership and insufficient use of our management information systems.”

He said Mencap had made changes to the leadership team and improved its monitoring systems since the CQC inspection in August.

He added: “Our priority now is to ensure that the people at Drummond Court are supported to lead independent and happy lives.

“We will continue to monitor closely the service improvements we have put in place to provide stability for the people we support over the coming months and years.

“When we have delivered on our promises we hope we will be able to start rebuilding the trust and support of the people living at Drummond Court, their families and relevant local authorities.”