AN ERITH home care service for the elderly has been hit with a formal warning over its staff's ability to spot and deal with abuse.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued two warning notices to Gateway Care Services Ltd, based in Pier Road, which provides care for up to 34 older people.

It says the agency, specialising in dementia and learning disabilities, must make urgent improvements following two unannounced inspections earlier this year.

According to their report, inspectors found the agency was failing to take adequate steps to ensure people were protected against the risk of abuse.

They found the majority of care workers they spoke to did not understand their responsibilities and what action they would need to take if they witnessed or suspected abuse happening.

Inspectors also report that follow-up action was not always recorded after complaints by relatives and the agency was failing to provide staff with adequate support to perform their roles.

Deputy director of the CQC in London Matthew Trainer said: "We check the standards of quality and safety in care that the law says everyone should be able to expect.

"These standards exist to protect people who cannot always speak up for themselves from being put at risk of harm. Providers have a duty to be compliant.

"Our inspectors will return in the near future to carry out another unannounced inspection.

"If we find the agency is not making the required progress we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers further to protect the people who use it."

A spokesman for Gateway said they had made formal representations to challenge the findings but decided to concentrate on improving services rather than appeal further.

He said: “We have already improved our systems so that we met the CQC’s requirements within the timescales they set out.

“All matters identified within the warning notices have been addressed.”

He added: “We are awaiting an unannounced inspection from the CQC in order for them to verify that Gateway Care Services is fully compliant with the regulations when we expect them to confirm that we have met all their requirements.”