An East Sussex care home has been placed in special measures after concerns were raised over staffing levels.
Saxon Court in Uckfield, East Sussex, which provides personal care for up to 18 people with learning disabilities or autism, was told to make urgent improvement to keep people safe following an inspection in July.
Inspectors found all aspects of the service were affected by a lack of staff.
Staff, whistleblowers, and the local authority said there were not enough staff to support people safely with eight incidents identified that should have been reported to the local authority, including a choking episode and a physical altercation between two people.
The CQC said staff were kind and caring but felt they were failing people by not being able to provide safe care or opportunities for them.
One staff member told inspectors: “It’s heart-breaking. You want to spend time with people. For some people we are all they have, and we can’t even sit for five minutes and hold their hand. We are failing them.”
Debbie Ivanova, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for people with a learning disability and autistic people said: “When we inspected Saxon Court, we found a service that wasn’t providing a safe home for people to live in. Despite the best efforts of staff, who were kind and caring, both they and people using the service were being let down by poor leadership, which impacted on every area of daily life for people living here.
“In particular the low staffing levels meant we saw a workforce stretched too thin to meet both the physical and emotional needs of people living here. As well as trying to provide support for people using the service, staff were also covering for a cook who didn’t work weekends, and a cleaner who was only hired on a part time basis. This didn’t leave staff enough time to do the things that really matter.
“We expect to see urgent improvements being made and will monitor the service to make sure this happens. We won’t hesitate to take enforcement action to keep people safe if this doesn’t.”