Understaffing at a care home is putting residents at ‘risk of harm’ claimed the national watchdog for health and care provision.

Weald Hall Residential Home in Thornwood, Epping, was rated ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following an unannounced inspection in March.

The care home – previously rated ‘good’ – was inspected after the CQC was alerted to concerns over risk and staffing.

In a report published on May 12 CQC inspectors found the care home had “failed to ensure enough numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of people using the service. This placed people at risk of harm.”

Inspectors reported residents and staff were “not safe from infectious illnesses” – in the kitchen there was found to be a lack of personal protective equipment for staff.

The home was also deemed to be unclean in areas.

The CQC report stated: “Hoist slings had been piled on top of each other which posed an infection risk, some bathroom and areas of the service needed to be cleaner, including key touch points.

“In the main lounge some armchairs were stained, pressure cushions and height adjustable tables required deep cleaning.”

Relatives, staff and residents who spoke to inspectors told them there were not enough staff.

One person said: "The staff do look after you, but they are also so busy and there is not enough of them. The staff here have to do two people's work, they have to clean and then do the care work."

The lack of staffing meant personal care needs were not being met. An individual told inspectors: “I would like more baths, but they are so short staffed I only get one once a week."

One relative reported their family member’s hair had not been washed and was wearing unclean clothes when they visited.

In another reported incident, a resident missed a hospital appointment for a foot infection as staff had forgotten to book transport.

The report did however note the home’s manager had been recruiting new staff to cover vacancies and the current staff were also praised for their caring and kind attitudes.

People told inspectors they felt safe with the staff who supported them.

One resident said: "Yes, I feel safe here, and staff are very kind to me but not enough of them."

A spokesperson for Sohal Healthcare who run the care home said: “Sohal Healthcare works openly and transparently with the CQC to remedy any actions highlighted from inspections. We are confident that we are progressing quickly in addressing the issues highlighted in the recent report. We are working closely with both the CQC and local authority in making the required improvements at the service.”