Part of care home complex at centre of a police probe is to close

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Part of a care home run by a company at the centre of a police inquiry following the deaths of 13 people is to close down.

Aspen Lodge - part of The Laurels care home complex in Broadbridge Heath - is to be shut by operators Sussex Health Care.

The Laurels, which looks after up to 41 disabled people, was criticised by health regulators and rated ‘inadequate’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in April.

As well as Aspen Lodge, the Laurels has three other separate units called Birch Lodge, Juniper Lodge and Cherry Lodge.

Sussex Health Care, which runs a string of care homes in and around Horsham, says it has staff recruitment problems. Sussex Police are currently investigating the deaths of 13 people at nine of its homes.

In a statement this week, a spokesperson for Sussex Health Care said:“We have taken the difficult decision to close the Aspen Unit at the Laurels. We believe the challenges with recruiting suitably qualified and trained staff will hamper our ability to provide good outcomes in a timely manner.

“The health and wellbeing of the people we support is our absolute priority and we are working closely with the eight people we support on the Aspen Unit, their families and their commissioners to ensure appropriate new placements are found.

“This decision does not impact the other individuals we support at the Laurels and staff members from the Aspen Unit will be offered new roles within the organisation.”

Meanwhile, aspokesman for West Sussex County Council, which is responsible for social care in the county, said: “Sussex Health Care has informed the council that they are closing the Aspen Unit at The Laurels in Horsham.

“That means that all residents who are living there will need to move to alternative services. We are working closely with the provider, local partner agencies and other councils who fund people in the unit to suppor6t them and their relatives at this time.”

The Care Quality Commission, in its report rating The Laurels ‘inadequate, stated that inspectors “found the quality of care provided to people had deteriorated as risks to people’s health and well-being had not been managed safely.” They also found “people had not been consistently protected from abuse as incidents of physical aggression had not been sufficiently reviewed” and that “staff used inappropriate forms of control and restraint when supporting people who displayed behaviours which may physically challenge others.”