Birchwood, a residential care home in Chesham, has been rated inadequate and placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The home provides accommodation for people who need nursing or personal care. It offers support to people with a learning or physical disability.

At the time of this focused inspection, there were 14 people using the service.

Right support, right care, right culture

“Right support, right care, right culture” is the guidance the CQC follows to make judgements about services that support autistic people and people with a learning disability.

In line with this, health and social care providers are expected to guarantee the people they care for:

  • Respect
  • Equality
  • Dignity
  • Choices
  • Independence
  • Good access to the local communities that most people take for granted.

Birchwood was not able to demonstrate that it was meeting the underpinning principles of right support, right care, right culture.

Right support

While people were supported and encouraged to make independent day-to-day choices, inspectors found that they were not supported to have maximum control of their lives. Nor did staff support them in the least restrictive way possible or in their best interests. Risks to people were not mitigated, including infection control risks. Safe medicine practices were not promoted.

Right care

People’s changing needs had not been reviewed to make sure that staffing levels were appropriate. Staff worked long days, spent time on call and also did sleep-in duties. Where people’s needs had been assessed, staff had not completed the training needed to make sure they were met. As a result, staff did not always have the relevant skills or experience to ensure people received appropriate care.

Right culture

Inspectors reported that Birchwood was not effectively managed or monitored so that it could promote positive outcomes for people. This resulted in living conditions that were not suitably clean and hygienic. Residences were not adequately maintained, and broken equipment was not repaired or replaced when damaged.

Mixed feedback

A person using the service told the CQC they felt safe and described staff as “very good”. Relatives felt happy with the care their loved ones received, though some provided inspectors with mixed feedback on staffing levels and the cleanliness of the service.

Overall, Birchwood was rated inadequate. The service was also judged inadequate at its previous inspection in April 2019.

Birchwood has now been placed in special measures, which means that it will be kept under review. If the CQC does not decide to cancel Birchwood’s registration, it will be re-inspected within six months to check for significant improvements.

The full report on Birchwood is available to read on the CQC’s website.

Don’t forget – if you or a loved one have experience of care at Birchwood, you can rate and review the service right here on our website.

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Published on 16 May, 2023

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