Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Coroner Criticises Abuse at Care Home after 19 Deaths ; Residents 'Unsafe and Unattended' Criminal Charges Could Be Brought

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Coroner Criticises Abuse at Care Home after 19 Deaths ; Residents 'Unsafe and Unattended' Criminal Charges Could Be Brought

Article excerpt

ACORONER has criticised the neglect and abuse at a care home at an inquest into the deaths of 19 elderly people.

Penelope Schofield, the West Sussex coroner, said the 19 residents suffered 'sub-optimal' care at Orchid View care home in Copthorne. All of those residents died from natural causes, she ruled. But she attributed neglect to five of those who died.

They were Wilfred Gardner, 85, Margaret Tucker, 77, Enid Trodden, 86, John Holmes, 85, and Jean Halfpenny, 77.

A serious case review has been set up into the former home. and could lead to criminal charges.

Orchid View, which was run by Southern Cross, opened in 2009 and was closed down in late 2011.

A five-week inquest heard how some residents were given wrong doses of medication, left soiled and unattended due to staff shortages and there was a lack of management.

Call bells were often not answered for long periods or could not be reached by elderly people.

Ms Schofield said: "There was institutionalised abuse throughout the home and it started, in my view, at a very early stage, and nobody did anything about it.

"This, to me, was from the top down. It was completely mismanaged and understaffed and failed to provide a safe environment for residents." Ms Schofield said it was 'disgraceful' that the home was allowed to be run in the way it was for around two years. She criticised the Care Quality Commission which gave Orchid View a 'good' rating in 2010 - a year before it shut.

Orchid View was closed down after an investigation by the commission found it had failed to meet eight of its essential standards of quality and safety. In the same year, Sussex Police launched an investigation into alleged neglect at the home, in conjunction with the NHS, West Sussex County Council, the CQC and Ms Schofield.

Five people were arrested, including some on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence in relation to one of those who died, Mrs Halfpenny, but insufficient evidence existed to support a prosecution and the case was passed to the coroner. Ms Schofield was concerned that many people who worked at Orchid View are still working in the industry. …

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