The residents and families survey resumed in October 2016, with a new staff survey supposedly to follow. One of the nursing stations was allocated a computer and a unit email address, but the latter still did not allow care staff and families to communicate directly, only via the deputy manager or receptionist as before – the company reneged on a short-lived commitment to provide direct access.
(I canvassed other major care providers for their policy on emergency admissions to hospital; shockingly none was willing to guarantee that residents would always be escorted - because that requires a degree of slack in their staffing levels above bare minimum cover, the standard for their budgets. Ask yourself, would it be acceptable for a terminally ill child to be sent alone to ED? No? Then why do providers - charging up to £2,000 per week - believe it to be so for a frail elderly person with severe cognitive impairment or for an adult with learning disability? You won't find that in any glossy sales brochure.)
*Updated @November 2016, August 2017, May 2018, April 2019, April 2020 (see postscript below).
NB: During 2017 and 2018, this situation escalated further to crisis for the home as a whole (not just my complaint), with it being rated "Requires Improvement" in all categories by the CQC in 2018, where it had formerly been "Good" or above. In May 2018, regretfully I felt I had to move mum out of this once excellent home; it was a huge decision, but thankfully she settled well into her new home in the same area, due in no small part to some familiar staff who had preceded her there. Continuity of care is paramount for those with dementia and I was grateful that she had that once more. However, I am also aware of our good fortune as self-funders in being able to make this move; others were not so lucky, and many of the issues described here persisted in the original home for some time after she left.
Update: as per summer 2019, I was pleased to find that the original home had received a good rating once more, but in her state of advanced age and frailty I didn't feel mum had time in 2018 to wait for this improvement. Crucially, I now know no provider is immune from them; they are part of the overall landscape of the sector, due to funding models that remain contentious.
Update: In January 2020, my mum died. I'm thankful it was peaceful, before the COVID19 outbreak, and I was able to spend the whole time with her in the weeks preceding her eventual demise, holding her hand until the last; eternally grateful for the wonderful care she received in her final home and to kind and dedicated staff in both homes who supported us throughout her more than eight years in care.
Sadly, I hear that the original home, having received a good CQC report in 2019, "promoted" the new manager to an executive post overseeing a group of regional homes (a familiar pattern), leaving that home once more under temporary leadership - and once more spending lavish sums on cosmetic refurbishments, when extensive redecorations had been completed barely a year earlier, at a time when staffing across the whole sector continues to be the top operational issue. Desperately disappointing, the more so when care homes are suffering so much from government funding neglect in the face of COVID19.
Meanwhile, a report into privatised adult social care by Professor Bob Hudson indicates that the detrimental changes I have witnessed in mum's home are common symptoms of the drive among providers to maximise profit by cutting down on their major expense and main budget variable: staff. (See in particular points 12 & 13 on page 9 of the report...)
[NB: This post was written in 2016, pre-COVID-19. Coronavirus has placed further strains on the care sector, and restrictions on visiting care homes may now apply; please check with the provider.]