Concerns about damning reports into a Solihull care home - where a catalogue of failings were identified during the summer - have been aired at a Full Council meeting.

Chelmund's Court, in Chelmsley Wood, was ranked as "inadequate" in every area by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following an inspection a few months ago.

Councillors had heard that concerns about standards at the purpose-built facility were first raised in December 2017, just weeks after it opened, although the situation became more serious towards the end of June this year.

The site, which is run by Runwood Homes, has around 40 residents and has come under fire for the management of medicines, reliance on agency staff and "accident and incident reporting".

Chelmund's Court Senior Living in Chelmsley Wood.
Chelmund's Court Senior Living in Chelmsley Wood.

Cllr Karen Grinsell, cabinet member for adult social care and health, said that while there was "no excusing" the problems identified, the CQC had made no criticism of Solihull Council for the support that had been provided.

Cllr James Burn, leader of Solihull's Green group, said he was "absolutely shocked" by the watchdog's original findings and said that concerns remained in a follow-up report, made public last month.

"Yes some things had got better when the inspectors returned two months later, but it was still a miles from rosy picture.

"As we've been aware of this since December, one month after the home opened, and as the situation has been dragging on now for 10 months, how can we be at all reassured that changes have been made and that our residents are safe here, let alone well cared for?"

He had also noted a recommendation made by former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, earlier this year, that CCTV should be installed in every care home.

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Cllr David Cole (Lab, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said: "Isn't this a clear indicator that the whole process is seriously flawed, when such a new facility, for some of our most vulnerable citizens, falls below acceptable standards at such an early stage in its development?"

Chelmund's Court was created to help bolster the number of affordable nursing home places in Solihull and its opening heralded the completion of the wider Chelmund's Cross village centre.

'Truly shocking'

Inspectors had first visited the home, unannounced, in June. Their visit had been brought forward because of concerns that had been raised by relatives, members of staff and external agencies.

The second visit, in August, which focused specifically on safety and leadership, identified progress in some areas, but the regulator said there were still serious concerns and the care home remains in special measures.

Solihull resident Margaret Ruane described the situation at Chelmund's Court as "truly shocking" and asked what had led to the "awful state of affairs" and what systems had been put in place to pick up any problems at an early stage.

Addressing Full Council, she said: "I want to ask what reassurance you, our democratically elected representatives, can give residents?

"I think it fair to say, regardless of one's political persuasion, democratic accountability is to be valued.

"And I hope you will treat this statement with the seriousness it merits, to ensure confidence in our council is not undermined."

Cllr Grinsell said that 87.4 per cent of all adult social care provision in Solihull was rated as either "good" or "outstanding" and that Runwood had a good track record nationally.

"The situation that arose at Chelmund's Court is obviously one that no-one wanted," she said.

"It's a very difficult process to open a new care home successfully and it's not unusual to have some problems in the early stages, often due to recruitment and retention of new staff groups. However, there is no excusing the poor quality of care that has been experienced in some cases.

"[Runwood] have acknowledged this and remain absolutely committed to delivering the agreed improvement plan."

She confirmed that while no additional costs had been incurred by the council, "significant" time will have been taken by officers and social workers to provide support.

On the latest findings, she said: "If you care to read the report from the second CQC visit in August, although there were still some concerns, that report demonstrates evidence of improvement compared to their original inspection."

In a statement last month, a spokesman for Runwood Homes confirmed Chelmund's Court has undergone "a full managerial restructure".

"We continue to work in partnership with all key stakeholders ensuring only the highest standards of care are evidenced and maintained.

“We will continue to monitor this service very closely as it develops.”