Staff and residents at ‘inadequate’ care home ‘regularly attacked’

Sussex Health Care Rapkyns Group Limited runs The Laurels in Broadbridge Heath
Sussex Health Care Rapkyns Group Limited runs The Laurels in Broadbridge Heath

Staff and disabled residents at a care home on the edge of Horsham were regularly attacked and left bruised with ripped clothing.

And in some instances at The Laurels in Broadbridge Heath, residents were given overdoses of prescribed medicines.

Those are some of the findings by a group of health regulators after they carried out an inspection of the care home in June.

And in a report out this week, The Laurels - which cares for up to 41 younger adults with learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities and sensory impairments - was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission.

The Laurels is one of nine care homes run by Sussex Health Care which is currently at the centre of a police investigation following the deaths of 13 people.

The Laurels was previously rated ‘inadequate’ in February this year by the Care Quality Commission following concerns ‘regarding people who might present physically challenging behaviour receiving unsafe support from staff.’

And following the latest inspection in June, the commission said that effective action had not been taken.

It said that not enough skilled and trained staff were deployed to meet people’s needs, that residents were subject to ‘unsafe forms of control and restraint’ and that ‘safeguarding incidents’ were not reported to the local authority.

Up until recently, The Laurels housed people in four different ‘lodges’ on its site: Juniper Lodge, Cherry Lodge, Birch Lodge and Aspen Lodge.

In their latest report, the Care Quality Commission, states: “Prior to this inspection the West Sussex County Council Safeguarding Adults team shared information of concern with the Care Quality Commission relating to specific allegations of unsafe practice and abuse by staff towards people living in the Aspen Lodge unit of service.

“These allegations included physical assault and unauthorised restraint of people ... These concerns were regarding incidents of physical assault between people, insufficient staffing levels and an unsafe physical environment in people’s bedrooms in Aspen Lodge. These concerns all potentially placed people at increased risk of abuse and harm.”

Sussex Health Care announced in June that it was to close the Aspen Lodge part of its site following the commission’s inspection. It cited staff recruitment problems.

Rating the care home ‘inadequate’ for safety, the commission in its latest report states: “Incidents had regularly occurred where people had attacked themselves, staff and other people living in Aspen Lodge.

“Incidents had resulted in people becoming bruised and their clothes ripped. Staff had had their hair and clothes ripped and obtained grazes.

“In several incidents, staff had used unauthorised physical restraint techniques in response, or attempted to use authorised techniques they had not been trained for, in response to physically challenging behaviour.”

And inspectors added: “People had received overdoses of prescribed medicines due to staff administration errors and failures to reorder revised prescriptions for people. People had received medicines after the course of their prescription had expired.”

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “The quality of care and support we provide is our utmost priority.

“We have taken on board the findings of the CQC report and are taking proactive steps to ensure these are addressed.

“Following an extensive recruitment process, a new highly-experienced home manager has been appointed and will be working to ensure we deliver the best outcomes for the people we support and their families.”