Birtley House Nursing Home near Guildford, which was rated Outstanding by the CQC last year, dropped two CQC ratings in its most recent inspection.
The Surrey-based Victorian care home has been classified as overall Requires Improvement by the CQC, with the same rating given to three of the subcategories. Both the Caring and Responsive categories were rated Good.
At the time of inspection, which took place on May 15, there was not a registered manager in post to carry on the regulated activities. Quality assurance systems were in place to monitor the quality of service delivered, however, they were not fully robust.
In addition, during the inspection the CQC found three breaches of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
Simon Whalley, chairman at Birtley House, commented: “At the time of the inspection we had recently and unexpectedly lost our registered manager. This placed a great deal of short-term pressure on the team and temporarily left Birtley House without someone responsible for managing the quality assurance, documentation and administration processes that are essential in achieving and retaining an Outstanding rating.
“We have since appointed a manager, who is as driven as myself and other members of Whalley family, all of which continue to manage Birtley House, to regaining Outstanding status. We now have a six-month window in which we can address the points raised in the report prior to a further review, which we have voluntarily requested, six months from now.
“I would urge people to read the entire report in order to fully appreciate this ruling in the wider context of the service we provide, which we still believe is exceptional; something that we have already seen to be echoed by our residents.”
While the CQC has deemed that the home requires improvement, residents and family members have stated that they are highly satisfied with the service of the care provider.
Jane St Aubyn, a family member of a Birtley House resident, said in a letter: “The quality of care provided at Birtley House is outstanding. The management, care staff, domestic staff and outside staff are consistently kind, patient and professional.
“My mother has lived at Birtley House for the past eight years and throughout this time I have never seen a single incident of anything but kindness and loving, professional care for every resident. Whenever we have had a concern or query about our mother the staff at Birtley House have answered promptly and comprehensively.
“As a family, we are genuinely puzzled and worried by the very recent and (in our opinion, flawed) judgement of the CQC Inspectors. Birtley House most certainly does not require improvement. It is the sort of place that most people in need of care in their old age can only dream of. I would certainly be very happy indeed to spend my last years here.”