Report into Crawley care home ‘must act as a blueprint for change’

Orchid View care home ENGSUS00120121209093302
Orchid View care home ENGSUS00120121209093302

Lawyers and families whose loved ones suffered ‘institutionalised abuse’ at a Crawley care home say a report due to be published on Monday (June 9) must act as a ‘blueprint for change’.

West Sussex Adult Safeguarding Board commissioned a Serious Case Review (SCR) following an inquest into the deaths of 19 former Orchid View residents in October 2013 where a coroner described a culture of ‘institutionalised abuse’.

West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield concluded five deaths were contributed to by neglect. In all 19 cases examined, the care residents were given was described as ‘suboptimal’.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell, representing seven family members whose relatives were residents of Orchid View between 2009 and 2011, say a public inquiry into the regulation of the care industry remains vital.

Irwin Mitchell says a public inquiry must consider Orchid View and other care homes that have been found to provide exceptionally poor care.

Laura Barlow from Irwin Mitchell is representing seven families who lost loved ones following residency at Orchid View. She said: “Whilst we welcome the publishing of the SCR into Orchid View which promises to identify failings and draw up recommendations so that the same mistakes cannot be repeated, we believe the horrific scale of neglect warrants a completely independent inquiry.

“The scale of the deficiencies in care is unprecedented in the provision of care to the elderly in the UK. Numerous safeguarding alerts in relation to failures to adequately care for vulnerable people at Orchid View were not acted upon.

“A Public Inquiry must be convened to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable are protected against unsafe and unacceptable practice across the care home industry and to ensure that the safeguarding authorities are fit for purpose.”

The five-week inquest which concluded on October 18 last year heard from witnesses who described scenes of patients being underfed and locked in their rooms, unsafe staffing levels and medical records being changed to cover up medication errors at the Copthorne home, which was run by Southern Cross and closed down in October 2011. It reopened as Francis Court under new management in February 2012.

Irwin Mitchell represents the families of Jean Halfpenny, Jean Leatherbarrow, Doris Fielding, Enid Trodden, Bertram Jerome, Wilfred Gardner and John Holmes.

Some of the family members have formed the Orchid View Relatives Action Group in the hope of putting pressure on the Government to enforce change to the regulation of the care industry.

Linzi Collings, whose mother Jean Halfpenny died in 2010 after being administered three times her regular dose of the blood thinning drug Warfarin over the course of 17 days at Orchid View, said: “It is nearly eight months since the conclusion of the inquest yet we continue to see a high number of stories in the press about other care homes failing CQC inspections or being investigated for putting residents at risk.

“Given the scale of the problem we agree with our lawyers that a full independent public inquiry should now follow, using evidence from the SCR, to ensure that every care home across the country is performing to a high standard and providing quality care, rather than running as a business with money rather than welfare as its core value.”