Client spotlight: Lister House Limited

In this issue we are turning the spotlight on Lister House Limited, a care home provider on the outskirts of Bradford, owned by Sally Allen. The company aims to provide quality care for both elderly people and younger residents.

How did the company come about?

The company was set up in 1989 and opened its first home Lister House the following year. It was a relatively small home – just 18 beds – in a converted Victorian vicarage and expanded to 32 beds in 2000. It mainly takes elderly clients who need nursing or just residential care. In 2003, the company built Sherrington House on land in front of it, aimed predominately at younger people – 18 upwards – who needed care. This was to meet local demand for this type of beds. Both homes are just half a mile from Bradford Royal Infirmary and Ms Allen says staff have always had good relationships with the consultants from there.

What are the company’s aims?

Lister House aims to provide quality care in a pleasant environment for residents. “It has gone pretty well overall. Both homes were popular and we had good feedback from residents and their relatives,” says Ms Allen. “Our Care Quality Commission ratings were “requires improvement” but with many “good” ratings for the individual areas they assess – Sherrington House was inspected in January 2017 and given “requires improvement” but “good” for caring and effectiveness. But in May 2017 we had a CQC inspection from a team we had not met before who behaved differently to other teams we have encountered.”

Their report rated Lister House as “inadequate” and put that home into special measures. Normally homes in special measures are inspected again within six months and have an opportunity to show they have improved before any action is taken. But Lister House was almost immediately served with a notice of proposal and then a notice of decision – effectively meaning it would be
closed down.

“It had an immediate impact on the business. The local press had a field day and the local authority stopped placing new residents with us because we were in special measures,” says Ms Allen. “Over time that has meant our occupancy has dropped – we were full at the time of the inspection but ended up with 10 empty beds. In a small business, that has an immediate impact. We have had to cut back on costs, including staff costs although luckily we have been able to do this through natural wastage as people left and students who had been working for us returned to university. But some valued staff chose to leave because of the report which was very sad.

“We had a lot of support from fellow care home owners, residents and their relatives. Initially I did not think I needed legal support and tried to deal with it myself. But I was in completely uncharted waters.”

Legal assistance

Ms Allen got in touch with Philippa Doyle, from Hempsons, who she describes as “coming to my rescue and being the voice of reason in all this!” Having assessed the position, Hempsons advised her to appeal to the first tier tribunal, arguing that the proper process had not been followed because the home had not been given an opportunity to improve and be reinspected. This appeal was successful. “‘Hempsons has been a shoulder to cry on through all of this,” says Ms Allen. “I’ve had sleepless nights about it because we employ 120 staff and I was worried what would happen to them and, of course, our residents”.

“We were reinspected at Lister House on January 4 this year by a different team and it was an entirely different atmosphere. We were “requires improvement” overall but with three “goods” – so we were out of special measures and the threat of closure went away. The local authority agreed to start placing people with us again, although initially only one admission per week.”

Future plans

Ms Allen’s immediate priority is to rebuild the business and ensure the home has full occupancy again. To do this she needs to build up staff numbers again. “The staff were very upset by the original report and needed lots of TLC. Ithas taken a lot of time to build their confidence up. I hope in a months’ time – when Sherrington House is due to be inspected again – we will get a “good” rating.” she adds.

The newsbrief is available in full here.

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