Staff at an understaffed Wallington care home were “stressed and demoralised” with one working 300 hours a month, a damning independent report has found.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Living Ambitions Limited in November and published a report on Tuesday (January 17).

The care home at 231 Stafford Road, which cares for up to six people with learning disabilities, was rated ‘Inadequate’ and placed in special measures.

At the time of the visit, there was no manager or deputy manager in post and an acting manager had been brought in by the provider from another service two weeks before the inspection.

Staff claimed without leadership, the service was “freewheeling to disaster”.

Lifeways Group, which runs the home said it has since put in place a new management team.

The report said: “Staff described the multiple safeguarding alerts raised during this period as ‘inevitable’.

"Staff felt ‘abandoned’ by the provider’s leadership as they struggled to maintain the service which was short-staffed.

“This resulted in staff working many additional 14-hour shifts, with one member of staff working 300 hours in one month to protect people from the risk of neglect and the failure of the service to provide basic care and support.”

Inspectors were told the residents sometimes missed out on activities because there were not enough members of staff.

They also found a lack of records including missing care assessments, meaning staff did not know how to care and support people.

Of the records that were there, some were found to be inaccurate, meaning people were put at risk.

On whether the service was well led the service dropped from a previous ‘Good’ rating down to ‘Inadequate’.

One staff member told inspectors they felt they had “been left by the people at the top” and the lack of leadership made them want to quit.

The report said: “Leadership failings and staff disorganisation meant that people were at risk of unsafe care.

"One member of staff told us, ‘We were freewheeling to disaster. All of the safeguarding [concerns] we had during that time were inevitable’.

“One healthcare professional told us they had observed people whose personal hygiene needs had not been met and who were not supported to transfer and position in line with guidance.”

Inspectors found the managers had failed to organise the staff to delegate roles and this resulted in medicines being overstocked, care records in “disarray” and safeguarding issues related to unsafe support and missing money.

A spokesperson for Lifeways Group said: “We acknowledge the findings of the CQC report in relation to the inspection of Living Ambitions Limited (231 Stafford Road), which are not consistent with the high standards we commit to at Lifeways Group.

“A new leadership team has been appointed and we are working with the CQC and stakeholders to ensure we drive improvements and deliver high-quality care to the people we support, at all times. “