Stern warning goes out to operators of ‘inadequate’ care home

Sussex Health Care, the site of Orchard Lodge, Nr Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR1713869 SUS-170613-154636001
Sussex Health Care, the site of Orchard Lodge, Nr Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR1713869 SUS-170613-154636001

A company operating a care home - currently among nine being investigated by police following the deaths of 12 people - has been warned it could be stopped from running it.

The home - Orchard Lodge in Warnham - is currently in ‘special measures’ and is rated ‘inadequate’ by health watchdogs. It is run by Sussex Health Care which also operates the other eight homes at the centre of the police probe.

Health service regulators have told Sussex Health Care that if improvements are not made at Orchard Lodge action will be taken to prevent it from operating the home.

The warning is spelled out in a new report of an inspection carried out at Orchard Lodge by the Care Quality Commission. It says it will carry out another inspection within six months and if the rating is still ‘inadequate’ it will “take action to prevent the provider from operating this service.”

In its report out this week, the Care Quality Commission again rated Orchard Lodge - which provides nursing and personal care for people with complex health needs including learning and physical disabilities - as overall ‘inadequate.’ The commission previously placed Orchard Lodge in ‘special measures’ after giving it an ‘inadequate’ rating in November last year.

Following announcement of the November rating, West Sussex County Council removed five residents - whose funding they supplied - from Orchard Lodge after a further ‘risk assessment.’

In their latest report, commission inspectors said Orchard Lodge would “remain in special measures and continue to be kept under review by CQC and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.”

The inspectors said that systems were not in place to ensure high quality care. Checks were not made on how medicines were managed and there was a lack of analysis and monitoring of agency nurses.

They said that some aspects of care planning had improved but care records were not adequate with gaps in daily records.

They added that, had Sussex Health Care applied to register Orchard Lodge today, “the application would be unlikely to be granted.” The model of care, they said, had not kept pace “with cultural and professinal changes to how services for people with a learning disability and/or autism should be operated to meet their needs.

“These values include choice, promotion of independence and inclusion. People with learning disabilities and autism using the service should be able to live as ordinary a life as any citizen.”

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “The most recent inspections by the CQC at Orchard Lodge took place in late 2017 and at the very beginning of 2018. As such they simply do not reflect the very substantial investment that has been made since the New Year in both Orchard Lodge itself and the wider organisation.

“Since these inspections we have appointed a new Chief Executive Officer with decades of experience leading care providers across the UK, who has taken the lead on operational activities.

“We have appointed a Director of Quality, Compliance and Service Improvement, who leads a newly established Quality Team, which is working independently of our Operations Team and provides critical oversight and best practice support.

“We have also appointed a new Head of Safeguarding, who is a former senior police officer with many years of experience.

“We are working tirelessly to reduce the use of agency support. When we do utilise agency support, we ensure that each individual has a staff profile in place that clearly identifies them and ensures they have the right qualifications and experience for the role they are fulfilling.

“Orchard Lodge continues to make positive progress with these measures in place. The CQC acknowledges that the investment in additional staff in the home made prior to the inspections is having a positive impact, but it is deeply disappointing that the reports do not reflect the significant investments that have been made since.

“We are determined to continue to provide good quality care and support at Orchard Lodge and to work with the CQC to evidence this.”