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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Damning report finds residents were assaulted at Sussex Health Care home

In a damning report, published in the last couple of days, Care Quality Commission inspectors found staff at The Laurels care home in Horsham witnessed disabled residents being physically assaulted by an out-of-control fellow resident. Staff at the Sussex Health Care home admitted they had been unable to manage the individual. But, instead of following correct procedures, the manager failed to notify the authorities of the injuries or the incidents, which involved extremely vulnerable residents. As a result, the Local Authority did not carry out essential investigations and safeguarding procedures.

The Laurels is one of several homes at the Rapkyns Care Village, which is at the centre of inquiries into Sussex Health Care. The group, which is controlled by two Jersey-registered companies owned by businessmen Shiraz Boghani and Shafik Sachedina, is under investigation by Sussex Police, West Sussex County Council and the CQC - as OLM reported last weekend. The Laurels is one of two homes for adults with physical and learning difficulties which have been 'named' by WSCC because of significant safeguarding concerns. The Local Authority has also banned placements in several Sussex group homes.

The CQC's report is the first 'snap shot' of what was going on in The Laurels, which previously was awarded a 'Good' recommendation by the regulator. That has now been changed to a 'Requires Improvement' notice and the home's management has been described as 'Inadequate' in the CQC's highly-critical report. According to the Inspectors, who launched a surprise inspection of The Laurels in May: the service 'was not always safe', 'not always effective' and 'not well led'.

Inspectors say: 'In six incidents, a person using the service had been seen by staff physically assaulting other people who used the service. In one incident, care staff had recorded unexplained bruising on a person's arms. The home manager should have informed the local authority's safeguarding adult's team and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of these possible safeguarding concerns. This would have enabled an independent investigation of the incidents to ensure people using the service were cared for safely.'

According to the CQC: 'Whilst some incidents had been reported, other incidents, such as verbal abuse, intimidation and physical abuse between people, had not been identified...there was no evidence of these injuries being followed up on to ensure injuries had healed.'

The report further states: 'We found serious concerns with care and support delivery at the home that necessitated several referrals to the local authority safeguarding teams to ensure people's safety. These shortfalls had not been identified by the current management team. The provider had not notified the Care Quality Commission of incidents which they needed to tell us about.'

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