“Shocking Accounts”

This is what the County Council Lib Dems have passed on to us about the County Council meeting yesterday about Excelcare:

EXCELCARE SCRUTINY MEETING

Wednesday, 29 November 2006
PDG Chair Bill Dick
Introduction to meeting and stated that although Excelcare had been invited to attend, they were not sending a representative.

Adult Social Care Cabinet Member Councillor Sarah Candy
Stated that what she was particularly looking for from this piece of scrutiny work was to check that the processes ECC has in place are as they should be. Also she wanted to know that residents in care homes were safe.

Unison Representative
Stated that at the transfer stage, staff and trade unions were told that staff and the service would be transferred to Excelcare. However, each home is owned by a separate limited company and not Excelcare per se and this was not made clear. There is evidence of cut backs on everything not directly concerned with care, such as cleaning, so in effect the homes and the residential experience for residents is now not as it was when owned by ECC. On 10 December, a number of staff will be leaving as they are not prepared to accept the reduction in salary, sickness pay and redundancy packages, and these will be replaced by staff from Poland and Romania. Suggested that this service should be transferred to another provider.

GMB Representative
Point made that at the time of the transfer, Excelcare should have been in a good enough financial position to take on the service. In fact two weeks after the transfer, publicly published accounts for the 10 companies show that none of the companies had more than ?400 in their bank accounts. ECC had not been able to establish the true financial picture of Excelcare and it’s subsidiary companies.

Stated that the minimum standards against which homes are inspected by CSCI the official inspector, are lower than those previously in place from ECC.

Shift Leader, Lime Court Home in Dovercourt and Sweyne Court, Rayleigh
Gave evidence about the cuts in budgets across cleaning, food, appliance maintenance and protective clothing which are impacting on the standards of hygiene and care that are now offered. Also stated that when staff have taken up these grievances with Excelcare, the company has dismissed them as whingeing.

Relatives
Four people who had relatives in Excelcare homes gave accounts of the treatment that residents are receiving. There were shocking accounts of neglect, mismanagement and staff shortages that caught all the members of the committee by surprise. It is clear that the picture presented by inspection reports does not tally with first hand accounts of some visitors and staff.

Commission for Social Care Inspection
Stated that the remit of the organisation is to regulate poorly performing homes and leave good homes to get on with their job. However, Labour pointed out that the methodology of the inspectorate does not have a provision for following through recommendations for standards that are not met. It was confirmed by CSCI that this is done by complaints being made against the home which are then investigated by CSCI.

Essex County Cpuncil Officers
Went through the complaints system at ECC and well as the council’s monitoring system and contracts unit.

Next meeting
Conclusions and recommendations to be discussed 2,30pm, 15 December and County Hall.