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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Home care firm did not carry out proper checks on staff

A firm which provides home care to vulnerable and elderly residents in the Carlisle area was not carrying out proper checks on its staff.

Beechwood Home Care, part of national franchise Bluebird, has been ordered to take urgent action following an unannounced inspection.

Watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited its base, at Atlas Works in Nelson Street, on April 19.

It found the safety and welfare of service users was being compromised because bosses had not followed safe recruitment practices – particularly when it came to checking employee criminal records.

The national boss of Bluebird said it has since taken action.

Managing director Paul Tarsey said they immediately sent a team into the Carlisle office to rectify problems.

The regulator carried out the initial visit in response to information received highlighting a possible risk.

Inspectors found it was failing to operate effective recruitment procedures, and failing to ensure the required information was obtained for potential new employees.

The CQC looked in particular at the provider’s policy over employing people with previous criminal convictions. On examination of one employee’s records, inspectors found Beechwood had not obtained satisfactory evidence of their conduct from their previous employer prior to them starting work.

Another staff member had not provided accurate information about their criminal record on their job application form and contract.

Their Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check recorded a conviction that had not been disclosed. There was no evidence that the provider had further discussed this matter with the staff member.

Inspectors concluded it was therefore placing the safety and welfare of people using the service at risk.

Ann Ford, regional lead for CQC in the north west, said: “The law says these are the standards everyone should be able to expect.

“Providers have a duty to ensure they are compliant.

“This warning sends a clear and public message to Beechwood Home Care that they need to address this issue as a matter of urgency or face serious consequences.

“Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find that it is not making the required progress we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers to protect the people who use this service.”

“We will continue to monitor this domiciliary care service. If there was evidence that people were at risk, we would take immediate action.”

Mr Tarsey said Bluebird were “disappointed” by the inspection report and had already taken action.

“We were very unhappy and have taken significant steps to rectify the problems raised.

“We sent in our people from the national office and believe the office is now fully compliant with requirements.

“Obviously we are aware that we are dealing with vulnerable people every day. I’m absolutely confident that it has been dealt with .

“The team in the office in Carlisle were very upset to learn that this had happened. We have had maximum cooperation throughout.”

He stressed that Beechwood staff have always been fully CRB checked, however the problems arose in how that information was being documented and interpreted. “They have passed the checks. Nobody with any serious criminal history would get near the office, let alone a Bluebird Care uniform,” he added.

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