Hartlepool care home slammed after staff ignored fire alrm

Highnam Hall.
Highnam Hall.
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A care home has been placed in special measures and rated inadequate.

The rating on Highnam Hall in Hartlepool came after Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found problems ranging from residents being treated without dignity, to “significant deficits” in the fire safety of the building.

During one fire alarm, staff did not respond, did not fully check the area of the building where the potential fire was, left people sitting in the affected zone, and made no attempt to evacuate them to a safe area, said the CQC report.

There were no specific strategies to support people living with dementia and may present with behaviour that challenged the service; and staff were seen responding to people in an “undignified, disrespectful and an infantilised manner when they were distressed and disoriented,” the report added.

In further findings, sensitive and confidential information about people’s health and welfare was discussed in front of other people during handover which showed a lack of respect for people’s privacy.

And inspectors found staff had not received training in privacy and dignity or in challenging behaviour.

They placed Highnam Hall into special measures after finding it to be inadequate after asking if the service was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The home is registered to provide residential care to 37 people, some with dementia.

The inspection summary said: “Services in special measures will be kept under review and, if we have not taken immediate action to propose to cancel the provider’s registration of the service, will be inspected again within six months.

“The expectation is that providers found to have been providing inadequate care should have made significant improvements within this timeframe.”

If there is still no sign of improvements, CQC officials could start the process of preventing the provider from operating the service and possibly cancelling their registration.

Highnam Hall is owned by Matt Matharu, who was jailed for eight months in February for health and safety breaches at Parkview care home in Seaton Carew.

In another part of the report, inspectors told how Cleveland Fire Service, in October this year, issued an action plan identifying a “significant number of failings of fire protection within the building.”

The findings indicated the provider did not ensure care and treatment was provided in a safe way for people, nor ensure the premises used by people were safe to use for their intended purpose.

The provider did not have an effective and robust system in place to assess, monitor and improve the quality of the service provided, the report added.