'Risk of harm' to patients as home care firm put in special measures

Clients of a good home care company will usually only be assigned one or two carers, allowing them t

Clients of a good home care company will usually only be assigned one or two carers, allowing them to form close, trusting relationships. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A care provider has been put into special measures following an inspection that found unsafe practices that meant people were “at risk of avoidable harm”.

Fisher Healthcare East Anglia, based on West End Street in Norwich, provides personal care to people living in their homes.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it had carried out an inspection after receiving concerns about the management of medicines, infection control, safeguarding people from the risk of abuse, staffing levels and the management of the service.

In a report published at the end of December following visits in November, inspectors rated the service inadequate and put it into special measures.

They said risks to people's safety had not been “adequately assessed or managed” and incidents had not always been reported or investigated.

“The provider told us of several incidents where they had reported concerns of actual or alleged abuse to the local authority as is required,” the report said. 

“However, this had not happened in all cases and therefore, the systems in place were not fully effective at protecting people from the risk of abuse.”

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Staff also told inspectors the service’s on-call phone was sometimes not answered “placing staff and people using the service at risk”.

Fisher Healthcare East Anglia offices on West End Street in Norwich.

Fisher Healthcare East Anglia offices on West End Street in Norwich. - Credit: Google

The CQC said the service had also “not conducted all the required checks” on some staff including one worker employed in 2018 who had previously been convicted of a criminal offence. They continued to work for the service until they were jailed in October 2020.

“The provider told us during the inspection, they had not been made aware at any time this staff member was being investigated for a criminal offence,” the report said.

The CQC also identified concerns over medicine risk assessments, including occasions where a person may have taken medicines by mistake and tablets not being stored securely. Family members interviewed also raised concerns about staff not wearing coronavirus PPE during care visits. 

The report said: “After our inspection, the provider told us they had acted to ensure risks to people's safety had been assessed and managed appropriately, that they received their medicines correctly and that staff has access to the relevant PPE and wore it in line with current guidance.”

The service has been told to make “significant improvements” before a reinspection in six months or it could lose its registration.

Fisher Healthcare East Anglia has been approached for comment.