A dementia care village in West Suffolk that employed under 18s without "appropriate support and training" has been rated 'inadequate'.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on Ixworth Court Dementia Village, which presented findings from three visits in May and June, found the service to be 'inadequate' in safety, effectiveness, care and leadership, while its responsiveness was deemed to 'require improvement'.

The safety of the 23 people needing care was highlighted as a particular issue.

The report said the service "consistently failed to adequately assess and mitigate against the risks of serious harm to people who had expressed a wish to harm themselves or commit suicide".

Inspectors also found that staff "did not always support people to reposition when cared for in bed", exposing them to the risk of pressure ulcers.

Furthermore, people did not have access to vital equipment such as a call bell in their bedrooms.

Three people told inspectors they had to shout from their bedroom in order to seek staff assistance and they were often not heard when doing so.

The report said this exposed them to risk of social isolation, unmet care and emotional needs, and physical discomfort.

Staffing was also deemed to be a particular problem during the inspection, with one employee saying: "Lack of staff is a big issue here. You come in some days and there are just two staff members across two [houses]."

Another said: "We cannot go on breaks and leave our colleagues alone.

"It's just not safe."

Children under the age of 18 were also employed at the service, two of which were there on a college placement.

According to national guidance, people under 18 should not be working in a care home without assessments of competency and confidence to carry out tasks.

However, the care village had "failed to implement this and the worker and students were providing direct care to people without the appropriate support and training".

The report also found that, despite the service being promoted as specialists in dementia care, "staff had not
received training in best practice to support people living with dementia".

One particular example highlighted a person who moved around the service independently without staff support, and on one occasion was not appropriately dressed to do so.

Speaking on the findings, a spokesman from Suffolk County Council said: “Ourselves and local health colleagues are supporting Ixworth Court Dementia Village as they continue to make the required improvements outlined in the inspection.”

Ixworth Court Dementia Village declined to comment.