Care home placements suspended amid police probe into deaths

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A block on admission of new council-funded residents to all care homes run by a company at the centre of a police investigation has been put in place by West Sussex County Council.

The council said this week that it had decided to suspend admissions to all homes run by Sussex Health Care. Nine of the company’s homes are currently being investigated following the deaths of 13 people.

The council says the suspension “will continue until we are satisfied that all our concerns have been adequately addressed.”

Sussex Police say they are “focusing on an alleged lack of care and safeguarding for a number of patients at nine Sussex Health Care premises” following concerns raised over 43 residents, 13 of whom have now died.

Meanwhile, Sussex Health Care in a statement said: “For the past nine months we have sought to do everything possible to work with West Sussex County Council, both to address their concerns where they have been reasonable and to put right the numerous misconceptions where the county has been in error.

“As part of our commitment to partnership working we appointed an independent expert in the summer of 2017 to carry out a comprehensive review of procedures and help rebuild a positive working relationship with the county.

“Subsequently, we appointed a highly experienced CEO in the New Year to continue to drive through that programme. Throughout this entire period we have welcomed representatives from the county into our homes and services to review care provision and have, for the most part, enjoyed positive working relationships.

“Our new senior management team is now in discussion with the county council, particularly in relation to how the council has measured quality of provision based on historic issues which do not reflect the current standards of care. We are confident these discussions will support us to move forward positively with the county council.

“West Sussex continues to fund their placements with us, and have done throughout this period. Our homes and services will continue to provide good quality care to the very many people we support and we will keep our relationship with WSCC under constant review.

“Our commitment to providing the highest standards of care for every person we support remains undiminished.”

Meanwhile, one of Sussex Health care homes - Rapkyns Nursing Home at Broadbridge Heath - is to close. A spokesman for the company said: “We have taken the difficult decision to cease all placements at Rapkyns Nursing Home due to the need for essential refurbishments to our facilities, and are working with the people we support and the authorities to find appropriate alternative placements.

“Our focus is always on providing the highest levels of care to each person we support. We pride ourselves on our high standards. Having reviewed the environment and the significant change in needs over time of the people we support, the building is no longer fit for purpose. To this end, we intend to completely refurbish and reconfigure the service and this will not be possible whilst continuing to run it as we have previously.

“The health and wellbeing of every person we support at Rapkyns Nursing Home is our number one priority. We are absolutely committed to providing continuity of care throughout this period, and additional senior management and clinical staff are at the home to ensure we continue to provide the care and support needed. We are working closely with the people we support and their relatives as well as all the appropriate authorities and are meeting with them regularly to ensure they remain involved in the whole process.

“We have informed placing authorities of our intention to end all placements and if the people we support or their families choose not to take up the option of a placement within one of our other care homes, they are providing additional support to identify alternative options.”