A CARE home for people with autism in Reading has failed to uphold its clients’ ‘human rights’ and keep them ‘safe from abuse,’ a watchdog has ruled.

Two unannounced inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at The Maples, Tokers Green, resulted in the site being placed into 'special measures' by inspector.

A CQC visit to the Caversham site in June found residents’ homes in a ‘state of disrepair’, staff unable to always respond appropriately to abuse, and missed healthcare appointments.

One relative of a client was reduced to tears upon finding their family members’ hands and feet, which required medical treatment, were overlooked after the podiatrist stopped visiting due to Covid-19.

“Didn't anyone see his feet? I wasn't going to send him back until the condition had improved. Before lockdown he was coming to us so we could take care of him. I hope it won't deteriorate further," they told inspectors.

The centre, which provides accommodation and support for people with complex mental health conditions, was rated inadequate by the CQC - the worst possible grade – and put into special measures.

Their report described a lack of privacy, leading to one service user tissue-papering their windows, and poor complaints management.

Staff told the CQC a client wrote a letter of complaint in 2020 about how another person living in the service made them feel frightened, but the centre's management team could not provide evidence of how this was dealt with and the Disabilities Trust, which runs the care home, said they had no record of the complaint.

The CQC said the Disabilities Trust relied on some agency staff which were not fully trained, such as in epilepsy or restraining clients, and the CQC 'were not assured' the Trust had systems in place which consistently protected clients from Covid-19.

CQC head of inspection for adult social care Rebecca Bauers said: “The location of the service and care of the people living there does not support the delivery of modern, effective care for people with a learning disability or autistic people.”

As part of being in special measures, the Maples will see another inspection within the next six months to check for ‘significant improvement’, otherwise the CQC may prevent the Disabilities Trust from running the service.

The Disabilities Trust CEO Irene Sobowale said: “We were saddened that The Maples received an inadequate rating. We are taking this situation extremely seriously and we have put in place a comprehensive action plan to bring the service up to standard.

“This includes installing a new management team, reviewing every resident’s care and support plan, increasing staff training and making improvements to the building and general environment.”

“The CQC inspection team did acknowledge that the Trust had taken immediate action to respond to the most immediate concerns raised.

“The issues identified at The Maples are not indicative of the CQC results as a whole for the Trust, the vast majority of which are rated as Good or Outstanding.”

The report found that clients experienced caring and positive relationships with well-known staff and that staff spoke about people with compassion, respect, and concern for their welfare.

According to the CQC, relatives provided ‘mixed reviews’ regarding whether people in the Maples were kept safe.