A CARE home which was so short staffed that relatives had to support family members has been deemed "inadequate".

The Four Oaks Care Home, in Wood Lane, Partington, which is run by Kingsley Care Homes, was found as requiring improvement in two key areas of the operation — responsiveness and caring and inadequate in the remaining three key areas of safety, effectiveness and being well led.

As a result of the inspection, the home was placed in special measures.

After a follow-up visit, inspectors have reported that changes are starting to happen.

Four Oaks is a modern purpose-built property which can accommodate up to 62 people in four separate units on two levels. Two units specialise in providing care for people living with dementia.

At the time of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in December there was a new manager in place who was not then registered with them.

That inspection found there were insufficient staff on duty to meet people’s assessed health and well-being needs.

Relatives told inspectors they had acted as "support" for their often elderly relatives because of staff shortages.

Risks had not been clearly assessed and guidance was unavailable to staff to mitigate risk and people experiencing multiple falls were not risk assessed.

Hot kettles were left on stoves which residents had access to with no staff being present.

Behaviour plans were not in place. Staff said they had no time to access care plans and handover of relevant information left staff unaware of changes in people’s health and wellbeing.

Medicines were not safely administered and on the first day of the inspection the morning medicines round took so long that one person had to miss their lunch time medicine as there was not enough time between doses.

Charts to measure fluid intake did not specify a daily amount and no information available to care staff on the amount of thickener used in a person’s drink to prevent choking.

Staff training was out of date and new staff placed on rotas even before completing mandatory training.

There was a lack of governance at Four Oaks and audit systems either not in place or were not robust and had not identified breaches in the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

On the return of the CQC in January to check on the action plan, the home had begun to address some of the issues with increased levels in staffing, training to administer medicines, risk assessment reviewed, kettles kept locked up, staff provided with up to date information at handover and quality audit system was being used and staff provided with online training.

The CQC added: “It was too early to assess what impact these changes have made on the quality of care and the quality of people’s lives. We will look at this at our next inspection.”

Ian Smallwood, the operations manager for Kingsley Care Homes, said: “We were all hugely disappointed by the findings of the CQC inspectors.

“However, we are equally proud of our team’s unswerving commitment to remedy all the failings since the CQC’s visit before Christmas.

“Our new home manager, supported by our experienced regional management team, has been working to a robust action plan and both the CQC and local regulatory authorities have expressed satisfaction with progress we have made.

“We are confident the home is now settled and well run and would welcome people to come and visit us and see for themselves”.