A day trip to Cherry Tree and a panel of sense

Landmark judgement yesterday when a tribunal found the CQC decision not to let Care Management Group Limited increase the bedroom numbers in one of their houses, Cherry Tree, from 7-10, fair, reasonable and proportionate. Full details are here and are well worth a grim read. I just wanted to say something about the tribunal panel visit to Cherry Tree (from para 48 in the report). Just as a bit of context, 26 people live on this site (which is called Lilliputs) in different ‘houses’ and it was rated good by the CQC in their last inspection.

Unlike commissioners, regulators, providers, social workers and the like, the panel were just people visiting Cherry Tree. They weren’t wearing those fuggy learning disability goggles that erase any whiff of poor provision. They were human.

This is a taste of what they found.

  • It’s a 7 minute walk along an unlit, tree lined lane to the property. Can you imagine walking for 7 minutes to get from the pavement to your home?
  • The only signage was the care providers name. There was no evidence anyone lived there.
  • The fence was so high and made of wire in places that it resembled a young offenders unit. When the panel queried this they were told it was because one person had a habit of trying to run away. ‘But there’s always a minimum of 1:1 support’, puzzled the panel.
  • No smoking signs were dotted about. ‘This doesn’t happen in people’s homes’, said the panel.
  • Cherry Tree didn’t have a small scale and domestic feel.
  • The site is very isolated with only the occasional dog walker and ‘courting couples’ entering it.
  • The timetable of activities was regimented and there was no interaction between people living in the different houses on site. ‘That’s odd’, pondered the panel. ‘One of the arguments for extending the provision was to allow two young men in Cherry Tree more social interaction’. Staff gave different reasons why this was; compatibility issues/lack of staff training.
  • One of these young men was living in Cherry Tree because he enjoyed rambling. In two years he has not been rambling.

The wondrous Dr Joyce from the CQC clearly explained to the panel

It is not normal to have to live with others in order to enjoy the benefits of relationships/interaction.

No. It bloody well isn’t. The panel said despite the protestations of Care Management Group Limited, the place was both a campus and congregate setting and found in favour of the CQC.

This is a brilliant judgement and shows that the CQC and service provision is heading the right way. What needs sorting now, urgently, is how a CQC inspection could give such dire provision a good rating. And how much this is replicated across the country. Again, it points to fundamental flaws in the inspection process.

On a chilling note, the panel raised this point by Care Management Group Limited (the Appellant):

In what other circumstances would you not aim for “best practice”?

It’s shameful this provider has the arrogance to waste time and money challenging the CQC decision. It’s chilling they were trying to extend warehousing in full view. It’s also shameful that the CEO of this bunch of cowboys, Peter Kinsey, is a Board member of Learning Disability England. If we’re to have any confidence in Learning Disability England, they are going to have to hoof him off the board sharpish. Maybe he could use the extra time sorting out the mess that is Cherry Tree/Lilliputs and start organising some rambling jaunts.


6 thoughts on “A day trip to Cherry Tree and a panel of sense

  1. I really like the John Blunt comments in the above report. I have bad experiences of two organisations, one a GP surgery the other an NHS Trust. I often wonder how they both received excellent reports form the CQC inspections they had. I have a feeling it is because they both had advance notice of the inspection and made the effort to clean up their act. before a day or two was spent wandering around the site. !

  2. A couple if things spring to mind.

    The first:

    having had a look at the Board of Trustees on LDE – I was surprised to see that so many are LD Service providers and one a Service Commissioner. Perhaps LDE should have a close look all ? At first sight it could look as though it is a Service provider/purchasing organisation. I understood it is set up to champion people with LD and their families. It would be helpful to understand why – etc ?

    The other is – that while CQC fully deserve all the accolades here – they should also look at the the ‘lives’ of adult people with LD out here in community – they too are suffering – from LA neglects. Where is the local Statutory – monitoring – and other – responsibilities here ?

    People in all kinds of so called ‘ living ‘ – are suffering from neglects and lacks.

    ‘Independent’ – lonely and dangerously neglected in their own home – or ‘supported’ – herded into group isolation – for profit.

    All faceless very vulnerable people.

    Numbers on a balance sheet.

    Living miserable half.. ‘lives’.

  3. Hi my name is Peter Kinsey, Chief Executive of CMG. I have read Sarah’s blog and do appreciate the concerns that have been expressed. However, there are a particular set of circumstances at our Cherry Tree service which I would be very happy to explain in more detail. I also don’t think that CQC’s press release gives a completely accurate picture of CMG. With the exception of our Lilliputs site, which is a legacy service, all of our residential homes and supported living services are in ordinary houses in ordinary streets. We take quality very seriously and our group has 10 services rated outstanding and we are 99% good or outstanding. We are signed up to the Driving Up Quality Code and carry out self-assessments involving people we support, families, staff and external stakeholders every year. Last year we produced three good practice guides working with people we support and partner organisations. They were on STOMP, best practice standards for services for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and helping people stay safe on line. I’m very happy to speak to or meet with anyone who would like to find out more about either our tribunal or CMG and how we work as an organisation. My e mail address is peter.kinsey@cmg.co.uk.

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