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Abuse became ‘normal’ at Birmingham care home, finds watchdog

Abuse became ‘normal’ at Birmingham care home, finds watchdog
CQC finds ‘incidents of physical, verbal and emotional abuse’ suffered by residents

A care home in Birmingham has been heavily criticised by the care watchdog after it found physical and verbal abuse of residents with learning disabilities and autism had become “normal”.

The Care Quality Commission said it had put urgent restrictions on Summerfield House, in Birmingham, to stop any more people being admitted there.

The home was looking after four residents with disabilities in August when CQC inspectors found a string of concerns.

Records revealed episodes of physical, verbal and emotional abuse of the residents with staff making threats to cancel activities or threatening to call the police.

In one incident a staff member used furniture to prevent a person from moving.

The CQC found staff were not able to recognise abuse, citing an example where inspectors saw a person being hit on the head by another person with no action being taken.

The watchdog’s report said abuse was happening between residents and staff.

Debbie Ivanova, CQC deputy chief inspector for people with a learning disability and autistic people, said: “Our latest inspection of Summerfield House found a truly unacceptable service with a poor culture where abuse and people being placed at harm had become normal, with no action taken to prevent incidents from happening or reoccurring.

“Records showed incidents of physical, verbal and emotional abuse incidents which had not been dealt with appropriately or followed up. Physical assault between people had become commonplace, made worse by a widespread lack of recognition from staff about the inappropriate and abusive practices going on.

“Care records and the language used by staff to speak to people were derogatory with no thought given to people’s dignity and wellbeing.”

She added: “This service’s continued failure to refer all instances of abuse and thoroughly investigate concerns has put people at prolonged risk of harm and created a closed culture at the home.

“We continue to monitor the service closely and will take further action if we are not assured the necessary and urgent improvements are made.”

As a result of the concerns the local council drafted in an external agency to provide managerial support in the home.

When inspectors revisited they found four more allegations of abuse with no evidence these had been properly investigated.

People living in the home have all been moved to alternative accommodation to ensure their safety, the CQC said.

Summerfield House was rated inadequate overall as well as for being safe, effective, responsive, caring and well-led.

A spokesperson for the CQC said police were notified about two incidents before the CQC inspection and the safeguarding team at Birmingham City Council were also made aware of incidents.

They added: “CQC inspectors will review the information held about Summerfield House and consider if they need to pursue criminal enforcement.”