New warning to company at centre of police probe into care home deaths

Sussex Health Care, Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath
Sussex Health Care, Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath

A company running a string of care homes - nine of which are currently being investigated by police following the deaths of 13 people - has been given another stern warning.

Health service regulators have told the company - Sussex Health Care - that it could face action to stop it running another of its homes - The Laurels in Broadbridge Heath - after it was rated ‘inadequate’ following an inspection.

It is the second care home run by the company to receive an inadequate rating over the past month - Orchard Lodge in Warnham gained a similar rating in April.

Both homes are now in ‘special measures’ and Sussex Health Care has been told by the Care Quality Commission that it could face action to stop it running the homes if improvements are not made within the next six months.

In a report out this week following an inspection in February at The Laurels - which cares for up to 41 people who have learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities and sensory impairments - inspectors said they “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.”

In their report, the Care Quality Commission, adds that The Laurels “has been the subject of multiple safeguarding investigations by the local authority and partner agencies. As a result of concerns raised, the provider is currently subject to a police investigation.”

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “This focused inspection took place in February, since when we have implemented a wide range of measures to ensure good quality care is being provided. We have appointed a new manager at The Laurels to work with our dedicated staff team, to make sure every person we support receives the right level of care. We have also taken steps to ensure the physical environment is of a consistently high standard across each unit.

“It is important to note that the latest report recognises that The Laurels is well-staffed, and is rated ‘Good’ in the Caring category. Feedback from relatives and staff quoted in the report is positive, including relatives stating they are happy with their loved ones’ care and staff saying they feel well supported.

“More widely our Chief Executive, appointed in January, along with our Chief Operating Officer have brought in a Director of Quality leading a dedicated Quality Team, and a Head of Safeguarding, all of whom are working to support each of our services to provide the high standards of care the people we support and their loved ones have the right to expect. We are committed to continuing to work with the CQC, the local authority and all stakeholders to meet these commitments.”