“TALES of horrific injuries and low staff morale”

The Harlow and Bishops Stortford Herald reported on the privatised Essex care homes here:

TALES of horrific injuries and low staff morale at some Essex care homes were heard at a public meeting in Chelmsford last Wednesday.

Personal testimonies from employees and relatives of residents at homes operated by Excelcare, which manages Ashlyn Care Centre in Harlow for Essex County Council, were heard at an adult social care meeting.

An account was given by Danny Paolillo about his father Lorenzo Paolillo who stayed at Oakeley Lodge in Chelmsford for three days.

Mr Paolillo told how his father came out of the home severely bruised looking like “he did 10 rounds with Mike Tyson” after suffering three falls during his short stay.

Other testimonies about Excelcare homes described how an elderly woman was dragged by her leg at Longfields in Maldon and how another had been left to sleep with her face in her breakfast at Sweyne Court in Rayleigh.

Excelcare employees were present to tell councillors of overworking, lack of training, reliance on agency staff, and how some staff had to bring in their own cleaning materials.

Michelle Bradley, regional officer for UNISON, called for the homes to be brought back “in house” or given to another provider.

She said: “The staff are seriously worried and upset and it’s showing. How you treat your staff is how you treat the people you give services to.”

In a report presented to the group there were no major concerns about the 10 Excelcare homes in Essex.

Cllr Sarah Candy, cabinet member for adult social care for Essex County Council, said in a statement: “I would like to reassure Essex residents that everything we have heard today has already been investigated, or will be investigated.”

Paul Brewster, from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said that eight of the 10 homes were rated as good and two were adequate.

No representatives from the care provider were present at the meeting which was broadcasted live on the council’s website.

Control of the Ashlyn Care Centre and nine other care homes in Essex was handed over to Excelcare by the council in March 2005.

A spokesman for Excelcare said: “For legal reasons no representation was made on behalf of the 10 care home companies externalised by Essex County Council and the subject of discussion. Residents, their relatives and staff will have been reassured by the Commission for Social Care Inspection stating publicly that the homes exceed the national average in the quality of services provided.

UPDATE: The BBC website covers this story (with video) here.