ANOTHER week, another care home rated as “inadequate.”

This time it’s the turn of Laurel Bank Care Home, in Wilsden, which has been put in special measures by Care Quality Commission inspectors following an unannounced visit in July.

They said the home, which is being kept under review for the next six months, had failed to ensure that every resident had taken their prescribed medicines or acted appropriately when discarded medicines were found.

Other issues uncovered included risk assessments not always being kept up to date, call bells not always answered quickly enough and issues with staff morale and management approachability. Although staff were said to be friendly they didn’t have time to talk to residents or spend meaningful time with them.

Look at that list from a concerned relative’s point of view and it’s not hard to see where the term “inadequate” comes in.

If you place an elderly or vulnerable relative in a care home, it’s because you can’t provide the care he or she needs and you’re forced to put yourselves – and them – in the hands of the “experts.”

As a minimum, you’ll expect the home to ensure they take their medicine on time, that it’s spotted if they accidentally drop it or fail to take it, that all staff know exactly what risks your relative faces at all times, that staff respond immediately if they’re called for, that staff are positive, cheerful and well-managed and have time to talk to your relative when they’re feeling lonely or need help and a chat.

From that perspective, it makes the response of care home owner Stephen Walkden, who says he is disappointed by the findings and plans to appeal, sound pretty hollow.

“You can’t be at the top of everyone’s Christmas card list,” he told the Telegraph & Argus reporter.

"We say to everybody we care for, we’re not perfect, we do make mistakes but we learn from them. We deal with all residents and families on an individual basis and work exceptionally hard doing so. No way on earth is this home inadequate.”

To be fair, he has a point; this is by no means one of the worst reports the CQC has written and there are, tragically, very many worse-run care homes around the country.

What’s most worrying is the growth in the number of care homes which are just not meeting minimum standards.

Back in July, the CQC issued an alarming report which stated that one in four elderly care homes were unsafe – at the same time the charity director of Age UK insisted that choosing a care home was “like playing Russian roulette.”

An indication of how bad the situation has become in some quarters came in the advice from CQC officials to people choosing a care home for elderly relatives: “check the smell” and “use your instinct.”

There were many horror stories, such as people with dementia being left in soiled sheets, others being given out-of-date medicine and even served food past its “use by” date.

At one time, owning a care home was seen by some unscrupulous individuals as a way to make a quick buck: buy a big old house, paint the walls, install some second-hand beds and screw on some handrails and you’re well in.

And, sadly, some people were willing to go along with that either because they couldn’t afford better care or they were conned into believing their loved ones would be well looked after.

Thanks to the CQC, those get-rich-quick merchants have largely been eliminated. But it’s clear there are many people out there who still don’t know how to deliver a decent service.

Nowadays, it is a very difficult sector to be in, with a predicted social care funding gap of around £3 billion by the end of the decade, which means low wages, difficulties in recruiting and retaining care workers, poor maintenance, and a lack of resource to improve facilities.

None of which makes an acceptable excuse.

These providers are dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in society and their numbers are growing rapidly.

They must get the basics right no matter how tough it is.

The good guys shouldn't be allowed to come last

I WAS saddened to hear the news that Monarch Airlines had gone into administration yesterday. In my experience, mainly flying with them out of Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports, they provided excellent customer service and were only slightly more expensive than the budget airlines which brought about their downfall.

You get what you pay for, they say, and I would sooner have fewer holidays and pay a little more for good service than save a few quid and be treated like the 400,000 or so passengers of Ryanair who’ve had their flights cancelled so dismissively…

Is George’s new job behind a welcome flash of good sense?

A VERY welcome dose of common sense has emerged from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, the think-tank chaired by former chancellor George Osborne, which says in a new report that empty mills in places like Bradford should be turned into business start-up hubs and incubators for entrepreneurs, offering them mentoring and support.

It’s a taken a while to get there (how long has it been since exactly that happened to Salt’s Mill and Dean’s Clough, to name but two?) but at least the message has sunk in at last.

Preserving old buildings and giving them a new and useful life is the sort of thing that local newspaper editors in northern towns and cities (along with many others, of course) have been suggesting for decades.

I wonder if his new job as editor of the Evening Standard is starting to rub off on George….?