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Resident set T-shirt alight at care home where mouse droppings were found and staff were told what to say to inspectors

PUBLISHED: 16:31 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:50 31 October 2018

Northgate House care home, Hellesdon.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Northgate House care home, Hellesdon. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

A resident was able to set fire to their own T-shirt at a Norwich care home judged unsafe by inspectors three times.

Northgate House on Links Avenue, Hellesdon, was inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in September, where it was found to be inadequate.

The home can provide care for up to 22 people, but during the most recent inspection had just three residents.

Norfolk County Council removed all of its sponsored residents earlier in the year after safety concerns were raised.

Yet even with only three residents inspectors said there were still “significant shortfalls”.

The home has been inspected seven times since December 2014, three of these inspections have resulted in the home being given an overall rating of inadequate, inspectors have found it required improvement on four occasions.

MORE: Hellesdon care home with closure notice looks to move forward with assisted living bid

Inspectors said they “continued to have major concerns regarding the lack of action” and in the most recent visit fire risks were identified, including one incident where a resident had set fire to their clothing while alone in their room refilling their lighter.

Inspectors raised concerns that the lighter fluid had not previously been identified as a fire risk and found: “The incident report sent to the safeguarding authorities where a person accidentally set fire to their T-shirt omitted important information.”

The resident was not harmed purely because a staff member smelled burning and managed to get to them in time.

There had also been mouse droppings found in the home’s kitchen by environmental health. The manager denied this was the case but could not provide evidence to CQC inspectors.

Wardrobes were not secured and were “wobbly” - posing a risk they could fall on residents.

MORE: Poor quality care homes will not be tolerated in Norfolk, says social services boss

Inspectors said there was a “history of non-compliance” with the Health and Social Care Act and most recently the provider was in breach of four regulations.

They said the manager “lacked openness and transparency” - one staff member described management as “a shambles”. Another staff member told inspectors they had been told what to say to the CQC.

At a previous inspection the CQC found no protocols for when or how much medication to give, including psychoactive medicine.

One staff member told inspectors: “It’s a judgement.”

MORE: Norwich care home hits back at being branded one of the worst in the country

In one resident’s care plan medication was the first resort for “aggression” and at one point was given because the person was “pressing the buzzer constantly”.

But a member of staff said it was more effective to sit and chat with the resident.

Earlier this year Northgate House filed a planning application, which is still to be decided to Broadland Council, to convert the home into 11 studio flats and a six-bedroom shared living space.

Operations manager Ziggy Ruhomutally directed this newspaper to his solicitor, who did not wish to comment.

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