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Week in Week Out: 1st Grade Care accused of ordering a client to be abandoned



Marie Perry - George's wife

Marie Perry – George’s wife

A Welsh council is investigating a case made in a Week in Week Out programme where a care worker was ordered to leave a distressed 92-year-old woman alone on the floor of her home, following a fall.

That careworker is employed by a firm which tenders for work in Pembrokeshire and Cardiff.

Vale of Glamorgan Council-contracted 1st Grade Care  is accused of ordering the care worker to abandon Doris Jones from Barry, and attend their next call before an ambulance or relative arrived.

The care worker told Week in Week Out: “I rang the paramedics straight away and all the time she’s on the floor. I then rang the office to say my lady is on the floor and was told to leave the call within the time I was allocated and go to my next call.  I asked if somebody could do my next call for me because I didn’t feel happy leaving her, and I was told no. I had to leave her and to leave the door open for the paramedics.”

The care worker says she felt so awful about what she was asked to she do she challenged the order: “I asked if they would be happy if it was their mother lying on the floor and somebody left. I was told it was just the job.”

It’s a shocking accusation. We spoke to the son of 92-year-old Doris Jones who took the call. He told us there had been many concerns with 1st Grade Care including missed and shortened calls. When his mother came out of hospital she was placed with another care company at the family’s request. Doris Jones passed away last year.

1st Grade Care  has been in operation since 2011 and was set up by former property developer Michael Poole.

log-final-2015-300x119The allegation levelled against the company is just one of a series made on Week In Week Out by families unhappy at the level of care provided as well as care workers who say the company failed to train them and they found it impossible to meet the demands of their everyday rotas.

In a damning report by the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) published in January this year, 1st Grade Care was said to be putting service users in “unnecessary and significant risk to their health, safety and well-being due to a lack of sufficient training for a high percentage of staff.”  Issues surrounding rotas were also found. The company was served with a non-compliance notice and the CSSIW have been back to re-inspect. They say they expect to publish a new report by the end of the month.

Jackie Toom worked for the company in Pembrokeshire as a care worker and admits to being regularly late to assist clients as she struggled to follow a rota that only gave 15 minutes to travel from St David’s to Newport, or ended one call in Milford Haven and started the next at a location north of Haverfordwest, at the same time.

“You can’t be in two places at the same time. To get from A to B in zero minutes. We are not given any travel time so we could get more working hours – more calls.”

Marie Perry from Pembroke has Parkinson’s Disease and needed a care package to help her get to the bathroom four times a day but her husband George tells the programme visits were regularly late or even missed.

Mr Perry, who has had major heart surgery and whose condition is deteriorating, was left to lift his wife when care workers were late or didn’t turn up. He says he is angry over the experience and doesn’t understand why the authorities haven’t investigated the company earlier. Mr Perry told The Herald: “I don’t know how much control the local authority has over them. It’s not being properly policed otherwise they would have lost their contract some time ago”.

Week in Week Out has discovered that 1st Grade Care has come under scrutiny by both Pembrokeshire and Vale of Glamorgan but neither council has thought it appropriate to cancel the company’s contract.

In a statement 1st Grade Care, said that the company admits they have been failings managing care workers appointments but they now have a new monitoring system in the Vale of Glamorgan. But they had no comment about why problems with rotas and training had continued in Pembrokeshire despite a damning inspection in the Vale, and targets set by both councils.

Welsh councils have been under pressure to save money and drive down costs with Welsh Local Government Association figures showing £55 million shortfall in adult services over the past financial year.

There are over 400 registered care companies in Wales. The industry argues that for them to operate effectively a minimum payment of £15.74 per hour is needed, with even more in rural areas. But Week In Week Out has discovered that only three councils in Wales are paying this basic rate.

Industry insiders say the hourly rate councils are prepared to pay means they are increasingly unable to deliver services to home users effectively as they drive down their own costs to survive.

In Cardiff a new tendering system has been introduced that sees care companies bid against each other in a live auction for care packages. Professor Luke Clement from Cardiff University and an expert in social care law says he is worried by a system he believes lacks humanity and dignity.

Cardiff Council has defended the system saying it is offering value for money, improving quality as well as attracting new companies. But Week In Week Out has learned that the UK’s largest care company Allied Healthcare has pulled out of Cardiff, saying their decision was due in part to the new auction system.

Professor Clement is also critical of the inspectorate CSSIW. He told the programme: “If it is their job to make sure the sort of abuses and failures we are discussing don’t happen then clearly it’s not doing its job properly. If things go wrong there may be a letter or a slap on the wrist but companies are not being closed down”.

The Inspectorate has the power to shut down care companies that aren’t complying with regulatory standards. In the programme the CSSIW said the last year they had shut down five following inspections and 14 companies had been given strict conditions to conform to. David Francis, Assistant Chief Inspector of CSSIW said more people were coming forward with complaints tripling over the last four years, but they wanted to hear from more. He said: “If there are people out there who wish to make contact with us we welcome that. We would welcome them raising their concerns with us.”

Last year plans by Powys to reorganise home care fell into chaos and hit the headlines after companies failed to deliver and were shut down. Assembly Member Kirsty Williams says there were a number of issues that caused the new system to collapse. She wants councils to respond quicker when things go wrong. She said: “They simply do not know what is happening on the ground and then that makes the system really vulnerable. It relies on individuals making complaints and what we know about people in receipt of domiciliary care is often they are really frightened to speak out because they are worried that their carers are going to be taken away from them, they are worried that they will get people into trouble and often people are so grateful have any kind of support they are very reluctant to speak out if things are going wrong.”

The Welsh Government is working on a new law to strengthen the inspection of Domiciliary Care companies. Health Minister Mark Drakeford told the programme: “Our bill allows us to be helpful to those companies when we can help them to improve. But where there are companies who provide services of the sort that would not be acceptable to you or me or the people watching this programme. We want the law to be quicker, more effective and to make sure these companies are no longer part of our landscape”

  •  Please watch BBC Week in Week Out, Tuesday, June 9, BBC One Wales, 10.35pm
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Search for missing Pembrokeshire man scaled back by police



FOLLOWING nine days of extensive searches on land and sea, we can confirm that the search for missing man Jai has been scaled back.

Police said in a statement: “We launched a search for Jai, aged 40, in the area around Hobbs Point on the morning of Monday, 20 March, following a sighting of Jai and his car, a silver Honda Civic, in the area.

“In the past week we have carried out extensive searches using the force’s specialist search team and police search adviser (POLSA), marine unit, specialist sonar, drones, dog unit, as well as working with South Wales Police’s dive team, the NPAS helicopter and Coastguard.

“A decision was made yesterday to scale back the search, which has been communicated with Jai’s family.

“However, we will act on new information, and officers continue with missing person enquiries.
“We are appealing for people not to put themselves in danger, particularly near the River Cleddau, if they are attempting to look for Jai.

“If you have information that could help with that investigation, please let us know:”

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Pembrokeshire chef, Daniel Jones, wins Pub Chef of the Year 2023



TALENTED chef Daniel Jones has scooped first prize in the Pub Chef of the Year category at the International Salon Culinaire awards 2023. The finals of the competition took place at ExCel London on 22 March 2023.

Executive chef Daniel is co-owner of JT at the Abergwaun Hotel, the hotel and restaurant in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, recently awarded a 4* rating by Visit Wales. His winning dish of Lemon Sole, Spring Vegetables, Bluestone Ale and Pickled Cockle Vinaigrette with ‘Welshman’s caviar’ (handpicked laver seaweed from the Pembrokeshire coast) came first place amongst the seven finalists, and will be introduced to the restaurant’s menu this summer.

International Salon Culinaire is regarded as one of the world’s top competitions for chefs, with over 100 categories, from pastry to knife skills. The competition has been a platform for chefs of all levels, from the talented young chefs training at college, to those who are well established and firmly on their culinary career journey. Gordon Ramsey won Chef of the Year in 1992, and the awards have over the years seen world-class ambassadors including Michel Roux Jr and, this year, Monica Galetti.

The Pub Chef of the Year category launched in 2022 to celebrate the fine food in the pubs and bars of the UK, and to recognise the hard work, expertise and talent in the kitchens of these establishments.

First place winner Daniel said: “I am over the moon to win the Pub Chef of the Year at the International Salon Culinaire. It’s a great honour to have cooked alongside other great culinary talent, and I’m delighted to have been recognised by the esteemed judges on the panel this year. I’ll be taking my accolade back to my hometown of Fishguard, where I hope I’ve made the community proud.”

No stranger to competition, Daniel competed in Masterchef: The Professionals in 2010 and he reached the semi-finals of the National Chef of the Year awards in 2018.

His modern European restaurant JT At the Abergwaun Hotel is steeped in Welsh heritage, supporting local suppliers and offering ingredients like Welsh lamb and beef, plus the famous Fishguard Duck and chicken, along with a selection of fine Welsh cheeses. The A La Carte menu changes daily, depending on what can be sourced that day, from locally foraged, farmed or fished ingredients like local lobster and spider crab.

Daniel will be introducing all-day dining on Saturdays for all to enjoy – including non-hotel guests – and this summer, JT At the Abergwaun Hotel will launch a seven-course tasting menu to showcase Daniel’s award-winning cooking (including his winning dish!) and the local Pembrokeshire produce which he’s so proud of.

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Tuk Tuk touring business with franchise hopes gets licence plate call turned down



A SOUTH Pembrokeshire three-wheeler ‘tuk tuk’ tour business, which has hopes of creating a country-wide franchise has had a call for discreet signage on a support vehicle turned down.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s licensing sub-committee, meeting on March 27, considered an application to amend standard terms and conditions of a private hire vehicle.

The application, by Lorraine Niederlag of Begelly-based Tuk Tuk Time, asked for standard external private hire plates to instead be displayed internally for its “usually affluent” clients.

The application for this change of plates asked: “We wish to request the removal of the large private hire licensing plates, in exchange for more discreet internal plates. The intention is to focus on tours that would compliment our tuk tuk tours.”

The applicants said the charming three-wheeler Tuk Tuks were usually kept to south Pembrokeshire tours, and were not really suitable for county-wide day trips; the support car being used for that.

“As our clients are usually affluent, it would be detrimental to arrive in a pre-booked vehicle with such a ‘taxi’ image. In view of all bookings being pre-booked, we cannot see any safety issues for clients by more discreet signage,” the application added.

At the committee meeting, TUK Tuk Time said it hoped to use the support vehicle, bearing the signage “Wales’ premier travel” for some short trips from its campsite to restaurants until the business grew.

Lorraine Niederlag told members it was hoped that Tuk Tuk Tours could eventually become a franchise, with similar three-wheeler Tuk Tuk and support car schemes running in other parts of the country.

She told members that if the small plates call was turned down the support vehicle would be sold.

Cover image: Giving a shout out to the Rainbow Delivery Squad are Lorraine Niederlag, family and staff of Tuk Tuk Time. Picture: Gareth Davies Photography

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