A CARE company has been placed in special measures by the health watchdog.

Crystal Caring, which is based in Cheney Manor and looks after 13 people in their own homes, was heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission.

Rating the service as inadequate, inspectors said patients were not safe and were put at risk of avoidable harm. They flagged six areas where regulations were not being met.

In a damning report, inspectors said: “There were widespread and significant shortfalls in service leadership. Leaders and the culture they created did not assure the delivery of high-quality care.”

Bosses at Crystal Caring had failed to make changes to better assess, monitor and improve the quality of the service - despite it having been raised in two previous inspection reports in 2017 and 2018. The manager herself had not identified the problems flagged by the CQC inspectors during their March visit, including concerns around the storage of medicines, risk assessments and completion of care records.

Background checks had not been completed on some staff members. Instead, bosses had relied on checks carried out by the individuals’ previous employers.

Inspectors said concerns remained over how Crystal Caring staff were managing medicines. They couldn’t find evidence that medicine records had been signed by two staff-members, as per the national guidelines.

And lambasting the service’s approach to managing riskier patients, the CQC said there was no up-to-date risk assessment for one patient in danger of developing things like pressure sores.

Of five categories probed by the CQC, Crystal Caring was rated as inadequate for two: leadership and safety. Inspectors said the service’s effectiveness and responsiveness required improvement, but rated it as Good for caring.

The registered manager of the service was said to have failed to follow specific requirements needed when something went wrong with a patient’s care or treatment, including informing relatives about the incident and apologising.

The CQC inspectors said: “We reviewed an incident that involved a person being injured during personal care. Although the registered manager gave assurances that they had met with the person and their family, they could not provide evidence of reasonable support being provided to the person or their family and they had failed to provide a written apology to the person.”

Crystal Caring said it had hired a new member of staff to work on getting the service up to scratch.

Tamera Norman, CEO of Crystal Caring, said: “Whilst we were disappointed with the outcome of the CQC report at no point have our customers been at any risk.

“We have already put a robust improvement plan in place which has seen a new system installed to resolve issues around medicines and we have brought in a compliance officer who will be regularly reviewing progress to ensure we are on track. We have also been offered further support from Swindon Borough Council and will be working with a local CQC-rated Outstanding care provider to implement best practice across everything we do.

“Providing our customers with excellent care has always been our main priority and we were pleased to maintain our Good rating for providing a caring service. The CQC recognised that our customers were treated well and ‘empowered as partners in their care in an exceptional service’.

“We are confident that the measures we now have in place will resolve the issues identified by the CQC.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “We are working closely with them to monitor and support improvements to the service.”