- Sarah Whitebloom
Warnings for weeks about crisis-hit Perranporth care home.
Concerns were openly voiced weeks ago about Sunningdale House in Cornwall, the care. home at the centre of a police investigation where residents have been removed because of 'safeguarding concerns'. News emerged over the weekend that Devon and Cornwall Police and the local authority had swooped on the Perranporth care home to safeguard residents.
Police admit they are investigating at the £600+ a week home. But they refuse to say when they began their enquiries or go beyond the following statement: ‘This is a joint safeguarding investigation between Cornwall Council Adult Safeguarding Services and Devon and Cornwall Police. Due to the safeguarding concerns NHS Kernow CCG and Adult Safeguarding have been moving residents to other homes. We are in the early stages of what is likely to be a protracted and fairly complex investigation.’
News emerged last Saturday that the local authority had removed more than 20 vulnerable residents from Sunningdale. But concerns about the home go back many weeks, possibly even months, and two online reviews left earlier this month give clear public warnings about problems at Sunningdale at the beginning of April. One reviewer points to longer-standing concerns at the care home - which should have been closely monitored by the local authority as the funding body for most residents. Local adult social care teams have a key role in ensuring that publicly-funded care home residents are protected and well cared for. Questions are certain to be asked about when the authorities became aware of concerns.
Both Google reviews, which are easily accessible, gave Sunningdale the lowest possible ‘one star’ rating – which should set alarm bells ringing. It is more than three weeks since the first review and more than two weeks since one reviewer – who claimed to be a former staff member – described the home as a ‘terrible place’.
She claimed to have worked at the home for five weeks before walking out because of her concerns. She alleged Sunningdale’s management ‘took no notice’ when people spoke out about ‘things that happened’. It is understood the home’s management has been removed by the owners, South West Care Homes. In the Google review, she wrote: 'Terrible place to work for I lasted five weeks then walked out people couldn't be Bothered to get a hoist so just lifted them dignity shocking the way certain staff spoke to the residents was terriable management never took notice to when people spoke out about things that was happened take a wide birth here on the other hand some Staff were amazing couldn't fault them ..'
Just seven months ago, Sunningdale House received a glowing report from the Care Quality Commission, which found it to be ‘Good’ in all respects. Well-rated homes are usually inspected once every 18-24 months, but it is understood the CQC has returned to the home. In its most recent report, however, the CQC quoted residents saying: “I never thought I’d end up in a home but this is wonderful” and “It’s all great here, there is nothing they could do better.”
Care home abuse and neglect were made specific offences in the Courts and Criminal Justice 2015. It contains clauses relating to abuse and neglect by care staff and care providers (home owners and managers). Police have found it difficult to gain prosecutions under the Act, with many forces reporting very few or no action against alleged abusers.
A Freedom of Information Act request by OLM last year, found that Devon and Cornwall police had not, at that point, brought charges against any alleged abusers under the Act although investigations had been carried out in 24 cases.