A care agency in Dartford which provides help and support to people in their own homes has been placed in special measures after healthcare inspectors found unsafe practice.

Athlone Care in East Hill was inspected by government health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in June this year, when inspectors found that despite a relatively small number of clients, staff were consistently late.

In April alone, 244 visits were made over half an hour late. People told inspectors they complained, but no records of complaints were found at the office of the provider.

Athlone Care supports a total of 50 people living in their own homes with a variety of conditions, including dementia and physical disabilities.

The service was last inspected in May 2016 where it was rated as "requiring improvement," but June’s visit identified more breaches leading to the provider being rated as "inadequate" for safety, responsiveness and leadership.

Inspectors identified incidents of patients falling, being taken ill and, on one occasion, developing a pressure sore without management being informed.

Inspectors found people's medicines were not always managed safely and that staff did not consistently record when they administered medicines.

Care plans had not been reviewed and updated when people's needs had changed and complaints were not always recorded, investigated or responded to in line with the provider's policy.

One person told inspectors that they had specific dietary needs to help manage their health condition, yet this was not recorded in their care plan and the registered manager told inspectors they were 'unaware' of the person's needs.

The provider has been placed in special measures, and could eventually lead to closure under regulations if significant changes are not found by inspectors during their next visit.

Clients did report staff were caring and all employees were working towards recognised qualifications.

A spokesman for Athlone Care said it was working with the CQC on an improvement plan and it would soon be reinspected.