A care home for elderly people in Amersham has been rated ‘inadequate’ by a watchdog after residents were found to be at risk of harm.

The 19 older people with dementia who live at Cheriton Care Home didn’t receive safe care, the social and health care regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) found during its inspection of the premises at 9 Stubbs Wood in Amersham.

Overall, the care home owned by Cheriton (Amersham) Ltd was rated ‘inadequate’, as its safety, effectiveness of service and leadership were deemed ‘inadequate’, and CQC placed it in ‘special measures’.

READ MORE: Chesham Chartridge Lane care home 'inadequate' CQC rating

This means another inspection will be carried out in six months “to check for significant improvements”. If there’s no improvement “we will begin the process of preventing the provider from operating this service,” the CQC said.

Only the level of caring and service responsiveness was rated ‘requires improvements’ - one rating better than the ‘inadequate’ category.

While this inspection was the service’s first since its registration, the previous provider was asked to improve following a 2019 inspection.

Despite the previous CQC recommendations, people were “not kept safe and the likelihood of injury or harm had not been reduced,” the inspector said, including residents having access to a fire escape, which left them at risk of falling down the steps, and a window without a restrictor, which had been over-ridden by staff to ventilate the room.

The regulator “was not assured” of the hygiene practices at the home after several bedroom carpets and some flooring was stained, and risk of contamination and spread of infection wasn’t recognised.  

The inspection report said: “We observed three people's beds had been made using linen which was stained, rather than changing it for fresh linen. One person's valance was wet from urine. The room was malodorous and had not been kept clean. This showed there were poor standards of hygiene at the home. The person was in their room eating lunch in these conditions.”

The CQC found the care home had failed to ensure people’s liberty was only deprived lawfully.

Conflicting information about person’s capacity meant while one person was found to lack capacity “but can express herself if given time to express herself” she still had a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) in place – a way for care homes to legally deprive people of their liberty for care and treatment when it’s in their best interest under mental health capacity law.

READ MORE: Tributes left for 16-year-old boy who died in Jubilee River in Taplow

Relatives spoke positively about the manager, and one relative said the manager was “always helpful and keeps me up to date of changes with my (relative's) health condition.”

However, a member of staff commented: “The morale here is not good, it is terrible, we desperately need more hands."

Sushma Nayar, a director at Cheriton (Amersham) Ltd replied on request for comment: “On the morning of the inspection, before CQC arrived, the home manager tested positive for Covid and was therefore unable to attend work resulting in issues locating historical records.

“The home was unable to secure an extension to allow us to submit this information. We have engaged with the CQC over perceived factual inaccuracies that feature throughout this report, however we also recognise the overall message that there were improvements needed at the home.

“We have begun making these improvements in earnest, supported by a change of management and additions to our team of staff.

"We continue to work well with the CQC and local authorities, who have visited since the inspection, to ensure that standards continue to improve."