Police investigate ‘safeguarding concerns’ at care homes

Sussex Health Care, the site of Orchard Lodge, Nr Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR1713869 SUS-170613-154636001
Sussex Health Care, the site of Orchard Lodge, Nr Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR1713869 SUS-170613-154636001

Police are investigating following ‘serious safeguarding concerns’ over two Sussex care homes which look after young adults with physical and learning difficulties.

And - because of the concerns - West Sussex County Council says it has suspended placing people at the two sites.

The homes concerned are The Laurels in Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham, and Orchard Lodge in Dorking Road, Warnham, both of which were previously rated ‘good’ by health watchdogs.

Both are run by Sussex Health Care, which runs an independent group of care homes in the county.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said officers were working with West Sussex County Council as part of a multi-agency team enquiring into the safeguarding concerns.“No arrests have been made at this time,” said the spokesman.

“Our enquiries are at an early stage and we are not currently providing further information.”

The Laurels can care for up to 41 people aged over 18 and specialises in caring for people with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, epilepsy and ‘challenging behaviour’.

Orchard Lodge can care for up to 33 young people aged over 18 and offers specialist care for those with autism, cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease and multiple learning disabilities.

In a report, West Sussex County Council says it “has contracts with many care homes and care services in West Sussex and regularly check on the quality of care provided.”

And, it says: “Where there are significant safeguarding concerns about a care home or care service and the service provided to its residents/customers, new referrals to the service by the county council may be suspended and an improvement plan is agreed with the home or service.

“Therefore, the home or service may be issued with a county council suspension notice and we work actively to support them and track improvements.

“Where it has been assessed by multi-agency partners that there are significant safeguarding concerns relating to a care home or care service, because this is in the public interest we will share the names of these homes.”

And a council spokesman confirmed that referrals to The Laurels and Orchard Lodge had been suspended. She said: “We have suspended any new placements with a number of services run by Sussex Health Care due to serious safeguarding concerns.

“We are part of a multi-agency team carrying out a major safeguarding enquiry into the concerns raised and are working with Sussex Health Care to improve their services.”

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “We are absolutely committed to providing high quality care to every person we support. Our senior management team is working with The Laurels and Orchard Lodge to address the concerns that have been raised.

“Measures have been put in place to improve standards at the homes, so that residents and their loved ones receive the levels of care and support they have the right to expect every day. We will continue to work closely with West Sussex County Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group and fellow health care professionals. With this commitment to working in partnership and with a full action plan in place, we are confident that the concerns raised are being fully addressed.”

Orchard Lodge care home was inspected by officials from the Care Quality Commission in December and was rated ‘good’ in each of the commission’s five categories: safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The Laurels care home was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in July 2016 and was also rated ‘good’ in each of the five categories.