Failings at care homes owned by Tory donor Ravinder Gidar

An “unbearable smell” and a resident lying naked in a urine-soaked bed were found during recent inspections of care homes run by a company part-owned by a significant Tory donor.

The Care Quality Commission has taken enforcement action, which is reserved for serious or repeated breaches of regulations, in the last year at two of Gold Care’s 23 nursing homes.

In total a third of Gold Care homes, a company that made more than £1m profit last year, have failed to meet at least one required standard at last inspection.

The homes – which house old people who require nursing care, many of whom have dementia – are owned by Ravinder Gidar, who was invited to the Conservative’s summer party in June 2013. He gave £50,000 to the Party a few months later.

Grandmother's hands by Zanthia on Flickr
Grandmother’s hands by Zanthia on Flickr

Since then one of the care homes run by his company has been fined and another issued with a formal improvement notice after a local authority refused to send any more old people there.

A further six homes have failed on one or more essential standards in their most recent CQC inspections.

In addition, last year a local authority suspended placements at a seventh home for several months and many of the other homes that are currently meeting required standards have failed previous inspections in the past eighteen months.

Yesterday the Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted there were “far too many” failing care homes that people would not be happy to send their relatives to.

CQC reports into Gold Care Homes reveal that:

* A resident at a Gold Care home in Hemel Hempstead was found lying in “a urine soaked bed, naked and unable to call for assistance”. There were faeces stains on the carpet of another resident’s bedroom while others were dirty and smelly. One person inspectors spoke to said the home was in “chaos” while another resident asked “why they were in prison”.

* Relatives reported an “unbearable smell” and inspectors found a lack of bathing facilities at one Battersea residence last November. The Home only had one shower and one walk in bath for the 30 people using the service. One resident told inspectors: “I would like a shower once a week but it doesn’t happen”. There was also a lack of one to one staff supervision at the home.

* At a third home, in Welwyn Garden City  whose opening in 2009 was attended by the local MP, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps, inspectors visiting in January 2014 noted that a resident “in visible distress” was not attended to by staff. Care workers were unable to identify the people in their care who had pressure sores and an old person at risk of developing sores had been left without the cushion designed to prevent them.

Inadequately trained staff and insufficient staffing numbers were frequently mentioned in the watchdog’s reports despite Gidar’s brother and business partner  stating in an interview in 2013 that dementia training is a must for all care staff.

Asian of the Year

Ravinder – or Ravi as he is known – Gidar won the 2012-13 Asian of the Year award, prompting an acceptance speech in which he spoke about Gold Care Homes’ ethos of “providing care, nurture, respect and dignity within an environment that is both safe and stimulating”.

Since then many of his homes have been criticised by the care regulator, with failings in some institutions found on repeated visits.

Heath Lodge nursing home in Welwyn Garden City was fined £4,000 this February by the CQC for failing to have a registered manager in place.

An inspection in the same month found staff were both inadequately trained and in insufficient numbers.

Residents, some of whom had dementia, were not receiving their medicine on time. Old people who had refused to take medication were being fed it “‘covertly’ without a plan in place to identify if they had the mental capacity to understand the consequences of refusing”.

Elderly people were also being moved in a way that put them at risk of injury.

During a further inspection in March 2014 inspectors found “cleanliness was not of a satisfactory standard” .

“There was an unpleasant odour. We saw that the carpets in all the corridors and lounge areas were dirty and stained,” they said.

On the day of the inspection medicines were still not being given to residents at the time shown on records.

In all the home failed on six standards.

The CQC also issued a formal improvement notice in late 2013 in respect of a second old people’s home, St Katharine’s in Wantage, which has failed several inspections since 2011.

During unannounced visits in October, November and December last year inspectors found problems with residents’ nutrition and hydration and training and supervision of staff.

Oxfordshire County Council stopped sending old people to the home in July 2013 after identifying health and safety concerns. A spokesman said improvements since then meant the decision had been reviewed and placements of some old people were being made “cautiously, gradually and partially” while monthly monitoring visits continued. But placements of the most vulnerable residents – those with dementia and requiring nursing care – had not yet restarted, he added.

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “I am absolutely clear that CQC will not tolerate poor care and we expect providers to provide care that is safe, compassionate, high quality and effective.

“If we find standards are not being met we require the people running those services to make the necessary improvements.

“Over the last three years we have taken action against a number of the homes run by this provider and highlighted the improvements they need to make. We are monitoring progress closely and will not hesitate to take further action if improvements are not made.”

Today the Government announced a new crack down on poorly performing care homes.

Mr Hunt said that a similar system to the one currently in place for hospitals will be rolled out into care homes and home care services.

From October these services across England will face a “tough” new inspection regime. Care homes and home care services will receive Ofsted-style rating and those that are rated inadequate face being put into special measures. If they fail to make improvements following this they could be shut down, he added.

Expanding company

Gidar, a qualified pharmacist, came to the UK in 1966 with his parents from India. He founded Gold Care Homes in 1999 along with his brother, who is also a pharmacist. The two brothers and their wives remain the only directors of the company.

In 2012 the group expanded by a third to 1,100 beds when it took over eight homes from Viridian Housing.

In the year to June 2013 the Gold Care group’s turnover was £21m  according to accounts filed at Companies House. Pre-tax profit for the year was £1.31m.

A former Tory councillor of Iver in Buckinghamshire, Ravi Gidar is active in his local Conservative party.

In 2005 he signed, along with other business leaders, a letter to the Financial Times supporting the election of a Conservative government  because the Party “has the most specific plans for reducing regulation that any opposition party has ever produced”.

Gidar and his wife Jaskirin, a fellow director of Goldcare Holdings, were invited to the 2013 summer fundraiser according to documents leaked to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

A few months after the event the Party accepted a £50,000 from Gidar and this year he donated £200o to Tory MP for Witham Priti Patel. Donations of £50,000 or more entitle donors to join the Conservative Leader’s Group, at which they can meet David Cameron and other senior Tories.

In the last six months Gidar has attended at least two Leaders’ Group events: one in 2013 and another in 2014.

He and his wife are also executive members of the British-Asian Conservative Link, which acts as a conduit between Asians and the Party.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism contacted Ravi Gidar, his brother and his wife for comment.

The response received was a statement from the company’s lawyers.

The company said: “Gold Care Homes takes very seriously any finding of the Care Quality Commission and is working to deliver excellent standards of care at all of its 23 home. Action plans are in place and being implemented for each of its homes and the company has strengthened its own quality and compliance team.

“Gold Care Homes receives a number of commendations from its residents, their relatives and local authorities for the quality of care provided in the majority of its homes.”

The statement did not comment on any donations made by Mr Ravinder to the Conservatives.

A Conservative spokesman said: “All donations to the Conservative Party are fully permissible and declared to the Electoral Commission in accordance with the rules.”


Other homes that have fallen short

*Sir Jules Thorn Court, Battersea, London. Inspected November 2013

Result: Failed on two standards

Inspectors said: “There was a strong odour at the home. Relatives of people using the service told us that ‘sometimes the smell is unbearable’. We also noted that the lighting throughout the home was very dim.

“There were not enough bathing facilities for people at the home… One staff told us ‘I don’t think there are enough showers for  people’. One person using the service told us ‘I would like a shower once a week but it doesn’t happen’.”

*Queensway House, Hemel Hempstead. Inspected November 2013:

Result: Failed on three standards

Inspectors said: “One person we spoke to said ‘It is chaos. I would not have signed up for this.’ Another said ‘Everything here is okay’. One person asked us why they were in prison.

Staff told us and we saw that they did not have time to spend with people. …We found that the home was not hygienically clean and there were not sufficient procedures to prevent the spread of infection.”

One resident was found “laying in a urine soaked bed, naked and unable to call for assistance”.

*Autumn Vale, Welwyn Garden City. Inspected January 2014

Result: Failed on three standards

Inspectors found: “Most of the people we spoke to had some concerns”.

Staff were not trained in dealing with people with dementia: a resident who was “walking around pacing” in visible distress was not comforted and equipment to relieve pressure sores was not being used on residents at risk of developing them.

The home had failed to meet some standards identified in inspections in 2012 and 2013.

A 2011 inspection had found staff sleeping on duty, inconsistent care and insufficient staff.

*Tudors Care Home, Peterborough. Inspected January 2014.

Result: Failed on three standards

Inspectors found: “For one person who lived with Alzheimer’s disease there was no information within their plan of care as to how this condition affected them or how staff should provide the person with appropriate support.”  For another, weight loss over three months had been noted but nutritional assessments had not been reviewed in response to this person’s body weight.

*Newstead Nursing Home, London. Inspected December 2013

Result: Failed on one standard

Inspectors said: “There were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs.”

An earlier inspection in July 2013 had found the home was failing to manage people’s medication properly.

In October 2012 the provider was issued with a warning notice over safety concerns.

*Halcyon Days, Hitchin. Inspected November 2013

Result: Failed on three standards

Inspectors said: “We found areas where the standard of cleanliness was not acceptable on both units of the home… The provider had not taken steps to provide care in an environment that was suitably designed and adequately maintained.

“We found that people’s care plans and risk assessment had not always been updated.”

*Baugh House, Kent. Inspected November 2013

Result: Met all standards

But an earlier inspection in April 2013 conducted after concerns were raised by the local authority had found “continuing shortfalls” with inadequate staff training and record keeping, and people’s care “not being appropriately assessed or planned”. The home failed on four standards in this inspection.

*Bletchley House, Milton Keynes. Inspected October 2013

Result: Met all standards

An earlier inspection in April 2013 found “a large amount of cold air” flowing into the home through ill-fitting windows. Medical records and food charts were also inaccurate – an issue that had been identified on a previous inspection in October 2012. The home failed on two standards.

Between September and November 2013 Milton Keynes Council stopped sending old people to the home. A spokesman told the Bureau this was “due to concerns about some aspects of service delivery”.

He added: “A safeguarding investigation was conducted and improvement plan put in place by Goldcare which was monitored by Milton Keynes Council.”

The council’s concerns have now been addressed.
*Martins House, Stevenage. Inspected March 2014

Result: Met all standards

But it had earlier failed on three standards after inspection in September 2013. Inspectors said the level of cleanliness in some parts of the home was unacceptable, with one bathroom lacking a hand basin and “very unpleasant odours” in some rooms.

*Hillside Nursing Home, Romford. Inspected January 2014

Result: Met all standards.

This has met all required standards at its last two inspections. But a formal warning was issued following an inspection in May 2013 after the home was found to be understaffed.

The CQC had previously issued the home with three formal warning notices in January 2012 and ordered it to make urgent improvements.

*Alan Morkill House, London. Inspected December 2013

Result: Met all standards

But the home failed on four standards following an inspection in June 2013. Inspectors found insufficient staff who were inadequately supervised and that residents suffering weight loss were not being given foods that they liked to eat despite written instructions from a dietician to do so.

*Kent House, Harrow. Inspected March 2014

Result: Met all standards

The home failed on two standards following an inspection in October 2013: inspectors found inadequate numbers of staff who were not supervised properly.

Inspectors were told that care assistants – who at the point were doing the cleaning as well as caring for residents as the cleaner was off sick – were “running around like headless chickens” and received just one 20 minute break per seven hour shift, the minimum allowed by law.