Wigan care firm working to up standards

Moya Platt, who is unhappy with the home care provided by Cherish UK, with her husband Cliff at their Atherton home
Moya Platt, who is unhappy with the home care provided by Cherish UK, with her husband Cliff at their Atherton home

A care provider in the borough is not the subject of a formal investigation by Wigan Council, the town hall has confirmed.

However, the local authority did say that it is looking into allegations made by a whistleblower against Cherish UK, which supports people in their own homes.

The council and firm, which has its Wigan headquarters in Standish Lower Ground, are currently working together to go through the complaints made and work out if there is any substance to them.

Cherish UK has also broken its silence to reassure clients and service users after Moya Platt, from Atherton, claimed she and her husband Cliff had received poor-quality care from the company.

Wigan Council has also been seeking to allay fears, saying it is constantly working to ensure high standards of social care are provided to residents who need it.

Joanne Willmott, assistant director for provider management and market development at Wigan Council, said: “Cherish UK are not formally suspended under the investigation.

“The council is currently working with the company to look into the complaints, as we would with any complaint made towards a care company.

“Over the last two years the council has undertaken detailed work to develop an ambitious and reformed model of care at home, supported through the introduction of Wigan’s ethical framework.

“This has seen 10 ethical homecare providers appointed to work across the borough, following extensive testing of their commitment to delivering excellent care and support for Wigan residents.

“Wigan homecare is based on person-centred support for customers and good working conditions, such as paid travelling time for front line care workers.

“We have a team of dedicated quality performance officers who work with providers, customers and families to continually check quality and improve the service.”

The national watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is also aware of the anonymous whistleblower’s complaints.

Cherish UK initially decided not to comment after Ms Platt complained about under-trained and inexperienced carers visiting her home to help Cliff, who has suffered a brain injury and needs help getting up and being put to bed, as well as seeing a high turnover of employees visiting.

She also claimed Cherish UK’s responses to issues over the phone were poor.

The company has now issued a long statement underlining its commitment to being a good employer and ensuring the care given is high quality.

A spokesperson said: “Cherish has been a care provider in Wigan since 2012 and has a long, successful history as a good provider and good employer in the area.

“It is a family-owned and run business that shares Wigan Council’s ethical values. At the beginning of 2017 Cherish began providing care in set localities under the new ethical framework.

“As part of the contract with the council, Cherish is routinely audited and Wigan Council has been visiting our offices and examining our processes to check we are meeting our usual high standards. The council make specific queries if there are singular complaints but we are not under formal investigation.

“All carers undergo thorough background checks (references, DBS and POVA) as well as full training, and a period of shadowing and mentoring where they are guided by experienced carers before they are given their own rotas.

“We would never send untrained or unvetted staff out to do care. Any carer not complying with our high standards is subject to our disciplinary process.

“Some of our excellent carers are young, however, the actual average age of our staff is 43. Some clients and their families discriminate against young people but we do not, because brilliant carers span all age groups.

“We pay our staff above-average rates and offer free further training and qualifications. Staff are paid a mileage allowance, they have the use of pool cars and bicycles, and we do our utmost to make positive changes if they give us constructive feedback.

“Cherish has a comprehensive complaints process but some clients, or their families, choose to complain directly to the council or CQC without coming to us, or without giving us adequate chance to respond, which we feel is unfair.

“There is an element of staff turnover in the care industry meaning that clients may have seen a few more new faces recently, and we are currently undergoing a mass, targeted recruitment drive to bolster staff numbers and establish specific evening and weekend teams.”