Elderly people were injured from falling at a shortstaffed care home which has been threatened with closure.
Ashworth Grange has been placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after being rated as “inadequate” by the health watchdog.
Two residents had been hospitalised from falls when inspectors visited unannounced in January. Records showed people had been found injured from falls after there were not enough staff to watch over them.
The home breached care regulations by not reporting incidents to the CQC.
The report said: “There were high levels of unwitnessed falls and some of these had resulted in hospital attention.”
Care workers told the CQC how they struggled to look after people because of a staff shortage.
One them said: “There’s not enough staff, that’s a fact. We’re fighting a losing battle.”
Another described the “unsafe practice” of a single staff member being left to look after a unit at the home overnight.
And during the inspection, the CQC witnessed how some staff went almost seven hours without a meal break at the care home owned by Ideal Carehomes.
The report said: “At 2.30pm we observed staff asking for support from their colleagues as they had not had anything to eat since coming on shift that morning at 7.45am.”
Residents with dementia or physical health problems were left unsupervised, and overnight staff would be moved between units to plug staffing shortages.
The report said: “This meant that a unit could be left without any staff oversight.”
Residents’ call bells were also left unanswered.
The report said: “The longest response time we noted was 40 minutes.”
Inspectors were told by one relative: “There is an odour, on and off.
“Some days there is no smell at all and others it’s very smelly indeed.”
The report added: “We noted a strong odour in parts of the home which had been attempted to be masked by rather overpowering air fresheners.
“ These were unpleasant and had the potential to cause problems for people with breathing difficulties due to their strength.”
The home was rated inadequate overall, and for being safe, effective and well-led. Ashworth Grange was rated “requires improvement” for being responsive, but got a “good” rating for being caring.
Ideal Carehomes said improvements had been made to rectify matters highlighted by the CQC.
Regional director Amanda Richardson said: “Whilst Ashworth Grange’s CQC report was a disappointing read, we were pleased the CQC found the home to be very caring, awarding this a good rating.
“Staff were found to be kind, caring and considerate in their interaction with people, respecting privacy and dignity, observations which echo the views of residents and families alike.”