Care homes at centre of police probe criticised by health watchdogs

Rapkyns nursing home, Sussex Health Care -photo by Steve Cobb
Rapkyns nursing home, Sussex Health Care -photo by Steve Cobb

Four care homes at the centre of a police investigation have been criticised by health watchdogs in newly-released reports.

The homes - all run by the same company: Sussex Health Care - have been rated as ‘requiring improvement’ in separate reports by the Care Quality Commission.

They are: Longfield Manor in Billingshurst; Rapkyns Nursing Home in Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath; Kingsmead Lodge, Crawley Road, Roffey; and Woodhurst Lodge, Pease Pottage.

The four care homes are among nine run by Sussex Health Care, also known as SHC Clemsfold, which are currently being investigated by Sussex Police following ‘safeguarding concerns’ after the deaths of 12 people.

When inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited Longfield Manor, Billingshurst - which cares for up to 60 older people with physical and mental health needs - they rated it overall as ‘requiring improvement.’

Inspectors said: “The inspection was prompted, in part, by notification of two deaths, the circumstances of which were raised as a concern in April 2017. There have also been 14 subsequent safeguarding and quality concerns raised.”

These included concerns over people’s hydration and hygiene, and the safe management of medicines. But, inspectors noted that staffing levels had been increased there following concerns raised by West Sussex County Council.

A separate inspection was made at Woodhurst Lodge, Pease Pottage, which provides nursing care for up to 10 people with neurological conditions or acquired brain injuriies. It was found that some staff had not completed training and the training of other staff was not up to date.

Another investigation was made into services at Rapkyns Nursing Home in Broadbridge Heath which provides nursing and personal care for up to 60 people with learning or physical disabilities and other complex health conditions.

Inspectors found that, although staff were kind and caring, some did not understand what was expected of them and did not keep clear records. There were gaps in staff training and there was a lack of mental stimulation for some residents.

At an inspection of Kingsmead Lodge in Roffey which provides nursing care for up to 20 people with learning and physical disabilities, CQC representatives found that the regular use of agency staff was having a negative effect on people’s wellbeing and quality of life. Some patients funded for one-to-one care did not receive it.

Two other care homes also run by Sussex Health Care were rated overall as ‘good’. They are Rapkyns Care Centre, Broadbridge Heath, and Beech Lodge, Guildford Road, Horsham.

Deborah Ivanova, deputy chief inspector of Adult Social Care in the south, said: “It is clearly the responsibility of the provider SHC Clemsfold Group Limited, to ensure that all of their services provide consistent high quality care. “For a service to be well led, the management of the service must have high quality support and robust, regular oversight from the registered provider. This is to monitor the quality of care delivered and ensure good practice and learning is shared over all of the services. However, there is evidence that Sussex Health Care does not do this consistently and effectively enough.

“We will be returning to all of the homes again in due course and will expect to see improvements made.”

The police investigation into the nine care homes run by Sussex Health Care is still ongoing.