Families of residents who died at Orchid View in Copthorne have heard what authorities are doing to stop ‘institutional abuse’ at care homes happening again.
Nineteen people died at the Southern Cross Healthcare privately run home between 2009 and 2011.
An inquest in 2013 ruled that five of the deaths were caused by sub-standard care and neglect, with witnesses reporting residents were locked in their rooms and underfed.
Among those who died were Wilfred Gardner, 85, John Holmes, 85, Enid Trodden, 86, Margaret Tucker, 77, and Jean Halfpenny, 77, whose medical records were found to have been falsified.
Today (June 26), relatives of those who died met with representatives from the NHS, police, CQC and county council to hear from the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) about the progress made in the 12 months since the Serious Case Review into Orchid View was published.
The review made more than 30 recommendations to reduce the likelihood of a repeat of incidents of substandard care, management and neglect such as that at the home.
Following the deaths, West Sussex County Council has introduced an online system to share information about the quality of care services; created a new team of social workers, nurses and business advisors; developed a system to provide information to the public when safeguarding concerns are raised, teamed up with Age UK West Sussex, Age UK Horsham and Guild Care to provide a Relatives Support Service in hospitals and created public awareness campaigns about choosing care and how to raise concerns.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “What happened at Orchid View was awful and where we, as a county council, have been able to implement recommendations we have done this as soon as possible.
“In some cases we had already started on some of this work before the Serious Case Review was published.
“One year on from the Serious Case Review findings we want to reiterate to relatives and West Sussex residents our continuous commitment to ensure quality and continuity of care in the county.
“A huge amount of work has been going on to make sure we do everything in our power to prevent the tragic events that happened at Orchid Views from ever happening again.
“Other recommendations are taking more time for us to implement and this is because we believe the most important thing is to ensure what we put in place is right, rather than rushing at a solution.
“We know there is more work to do and I want to give my personal assurances to each and every relative who lost someone they loved at Orchid View that WSCC is committed to implementing the recommendations that relate to us.”
A One Year On report published today (June 26), summarises progress made over the past year in implementing the recommendations.
David Cooper, chairman of the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB), said: “Time will tell if the lessons learned from the report have been fully embedded in individual staff practice, particularly amongst local care home providers.
“I would I would like to personally take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the continued engagement of the relatives of the residents of Orchid View, for whom these events continue to be very painful, and who are committed to ensuring that the lessons are learned and that the recommendations from the Serious Case Review report are implemented.”
He said the report tells him ‘progress has been made’ despite ‘some slippage’ but added there is ‘still more to do’.
Peter Catchpole, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, added: “There is nothing more important than looking after the most vulnerable people in society.
“We will do everything in our power to make sure relatives and others have the knowledge and power to raise a concern when necessary about a care home and hold to account those people who run care services.
“Much of the work we are doing goes beyond the Serious Case Review recommendations and is about making sure we have good systems in place for all care homes.
“We are working closer and better with care providers and partner agencies such as the CQC.”
Following the review in June 2014, Mrs Halfpenny’s daughter Linzi Collings called for a full independent public inquiry: “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.”
As well as relatives, those attending the workshop in Crawley included representatives from the CQC, Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS England, Sussex Police and other local leads social care and health professionals.
The Orchid View – One Year On report can be read at www.westsussex.gov.uk.