A dementia sufferer managed to escape from a locked unit at a nursing home in Chalfont St Peter that has now been put in special measures by inspectors.

Staff shortages at Woodland Manor Care Home in Micholls Way has resulted in delays in residents getting their meals, medicines, supervision and support – with inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) witnessing morning medications handed out as late as 11am when they visited over three days in March.

In a damning report published this month – which rated the care home as inadequate – it was highlighted how staff are working under “extreme pressure”, with one member of staff visibly upset because of the “daily pressures they faced in working without enough staff to get people up and dressed” .

The care home’s manager had handed in their notice and was due to leave later in March but two days after inspectors left on March 8, they quit without “adequate” notice – forcing the home to draft in another manager urgently.

The majority of the nursing home’s residents – some of which suffer with dementia – said they were “not happy” with their care, complaining about unsafe staffing levels.

Inspectors heard how a person had complained of stomach pain and requested to go to bed – but they were left for two hours before they were helped into bed.

Other residents also said staff came to their assistance but “often got called away and they were left, often needing the toilet.”

Another person was also seen in a “distressed state” when inspectors arrived at one of the four units at the care home and were left “unsupervised and unsupported”.

Inspectors added: “On the first and third day of our inspection there were only two carers on duty on the morning shift on one unit.

“Staff had called in sick, agency was expected but did not arrive and this was not communicated or acted on.

“Therefore staff had no morning breaks, people who were up were left unsupervised and other people were not assisted to get up until midday.”

Meanwhile, a lack of staff meant patients on the dementia units were “left television, asleep on the chair or wandering around distressed and becoming increasingly more agitated” instead of being taken to participate in activities.

Although the staff members were under pressure, inspectors found that they were “gentle, kind and caring in their brief interactions with people. They offered people reassurance, a gentle touch, helping hand and maintained good eye contact with people.”