AS the number of allegations of abuse in Bury’s care homes continue to rise, questions are being asked about the borough’s adult care system. BRAD MARSHALL reports.

HEALTH and social care bosses have sought to reassure residents of the safety and effectiveness of the borough’s care homes following the revelation that allegations of abuse have risen by an “alarming” 84 per cent since 2014.

Allegations reported in Bury have increased in number year-on-year, bringing to the total to more than 740 in the last five years.

However, health officials say that several factors may have stimulated the accelerating figures ­— such as the categories of abuse being widened and efforts to encourage more people to report their concerns around safeguarding (see panel below).

Catherine Jackson, executive nurse and director of nursing and quality for NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are proud of the excellent care provided by homes in Bury for local residents.

“We want to reassure local people that overall care provided from homes in Bury is safe, effective and responsive to individual needs, with residents treated with dignity, respect and protected from harm by dedicated, caring and professional teams.

“Bury’s care homes are also leading the way in relation to Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings with no homes in Bury rated as Inadequate and the majority rated as Good.”

The revelation of the abuse allegation figures followed questions put to the government by Bury North MP James Frith over his concerns about a rise in the number of complaints to his office about care received by care home residents.

To confront this issue Mr Frith has written to the CQC, the national care home regulator, to push for a strengthening of the inspection regime.

He has also called on the bodies which oversee care homes to “do everything in their power to protect vulnerable local people from abuse.”

Mr Frith said: “Care home abuse complaints have risen significantly in recent years.

“This isn’t only an issue for Bury as this worrying trend is replicated across England. However, it is an issue we need to urgently address so I’ll be doing my bit to press for change.

“Some elderly and our most vulnerable people are being badly let down by a breakdown in our care system and we all must do everything possible to tackle and end this abuse.”

Out of approximately 50 care homes within five miles of Bury, seven have been given a “Requires Improvement” rating by the CQC.

Nazareth House in Scholes Lane, Prestwich, was found to be the poorest performing care home in the borough following an inspection in April.

CQC officers found that the care home, which provides personal and nursing care to up to 66 people, mainly aged 65 and over; was “not safe” and rated it “Inadequate” in the safe domain and "Requires Improvement" overall.

In respect to safeguarding from danger and abuse, the watchdog’s report noted that residents felt safe and staff knew what action to take if they had any concerns about a person coming to harm.

Staff also felt that they could speak with the nurses and the area manager and they would act, inspectors said.

However, they did report seeing a resident’s catheter tube trailing on the floor, which created an additional a trip hazard.

At the time, there were no key pad locks on stairwells, creating a risk of falls. As did leads from electrical items such as television in people rooms stretching across floors to reach plug sockets.

They also noted that satellite kitchens were dirty and that first aid kit checks had stopped being undertaken.

Richard Whitby, CEO of Nazareth Care Charitable Trust, said: “Nazareth Manchester have worked extremely hard to rectify all the issues identified by CQC. We are confident our new manager and her team’s hard work will be recognised by CQC on their next visit.”

Sunny Bank PRS is the only care home in Bury to currently hold an “Outstanding” rating.

The privately run Tottington care home provides psychiatric rehabilitation and day care services for people with mental health needs.

In its latest inspection report from March 2019, the CQC praised the care home for keeping people “safe and protected from avoidable harm”.

The watchdog said services users felt safe at Sunny Bank and noted systems were in place for staff to report any concerns they had about people being at risk of abuse.

Staff further underwent safeguarding training and knew how to recognise abuse and protect people from the risk of abuse.

Speaking about the rise in allegations of abuse, Kate Terroni, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We encourage all people using adult social care services to speak up about their experiences of care.

“Hearing directly from people is an important part of our inspection work and contributes to driving improvements in standards, as well as helping us identify where poor care has taken place. We have taken more action and undertaken more responsive reviews