Whistleblowercomplaints“force carehome closure”

Date: Friday 16th February 2018

A PENRITH care home, the operator of which planned to develop it as a centre of excellence for dementia care, is to close by the end of the month after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised “serious concerns” following an inspection.

Before the health watchdog had taken a decision on what enforcement action it might take, Cinnabar Health Group told residents and their families in a letter on Friday that Eden Grange, formerly Bupa’s Beacon Edge home, was to close.

Cinnabar staged a meeting with families on Monday at which it was stated that CQC’s concerns centred on a lack of en-suite bathrooms at the home.

However, in a letter sent to relatives and seen by the Herald, Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, states that the CQC had “continued to receive complaints from whistleblowers about falls and bruises and infection control”.

Cumbria County Council is assisting residents in finding alternative placements. However, it is understood that Carlisle, Kendal or Whitehaven are the closest options, unless assisted housing would meet their care needs.

A joint statement from the county council and Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The safety and wellbeing of the residents at this difficult time is paramount and we are very aware of the worry and uncertainty for them and their families. We will continue to work together to support the residents and their families over the coming weeks to ensure minimum disruption.”

However, since many of the residents at Eden Grange suffer from dementia, family members say their relatives will struggle with having to get used to new surroundings.

Andrea Watson, Norfolk Place, Penrith, said her grandmother, Sylvia Entwhistle, has lived at the care home for two and a half years and has dementia. She will move to Pennine Lodge, Carlisle, because there is no dementia care available in Penrith, which will mean fewer family visits.

Mrs Watson said: “I come to see my nana every day, but I’m not going to be able to do it every day now. Both my daughters and my son also visit, but we’re going to have to try to spread it out between us now.

“My nana has dementia and doesn’t understand what’s going on, but it is going to be confusing for her to be somewhere else. She’s just got used to this place and the people in it and it’s all going to change.”

She added that she had never had any issues with the standard of care received from Cinnabar since the company took over from Bupa. “Since this lot came in and started making really big changes, it has been great. But they said the CQC want them all to have en-suite bathrooms. That wouldn’t work for my nana.”

Pauline Scott, of Penny Hill, Penrith, said her sister-in-law, Val Scott, aged 73, needed specialist care and had been a resident at the Beacon Edge home for around two years. She added that she was not convinced by the explanation behind the closure provided by managers.

She said: “I am very surprised that it is shutting down in the way that the management are saying. They are making such a big issue over it being en-suite bedrooms, which is total rubbish. In the 16 years that it was Bupa it has been an issue — it has never been mentioned.”

She said alternative accommodation had been offered for Val in Keswick, but she felt the distance might be a problem.

“I think it has been handled wrongly in so much that I don’t think the people at the meeting were told the whole truth,” she said.

Liz Gibson, of Carlisle, whose mother Audrey Price was a resident at the home for more than eight years, was confronted with news of the closure just days before her mother died on Tuesday, at the age of 82.

“They said everyone had to be moved but my mother couldn’t be moved, she was on end of life care. They couldn’t give me that reassurance. We had to sit in the meeting and deal with this while she was dying,” said Liz.

Audrey’s family felt strongly that “questions need to be asked” about the fate of the home and the decision to close it.

They contacted Mr Stewart and received a written reply in which he stated: “We have spoken to them at length about this and CQC are very clear that it was not their decision to close down Eden Grange, and that responsibility for the closure rests firmly with Cinnabar.”

Liz was at pains to point out that the care given to her mother at the home had been excellent throughout her time as a resident. “The staff there have always been brilliant,” she said.

Cinnabar took over the care home from Bupa following a series of critical inspections by CQC. It was removed from Bupa’s registration at the end of November, after which two more inspection reports from the time when the company was still in charge were released, revealing a catalogue of failings.

Cinnabar director Alister Cook said: “The families of the residents have been very complimentary of the changes we have made, in a relatively short time, as are Cumbria CCG and adult social services. However, CQC feel that we have not made adequate improvements quickly enough.

“We aren’t sure what else we can do and simply cannot carry on with dwindling resident numbers, increasing levels of dependency, nurse shortages and stagnant fees. We feel the future of elderly nursing dementia care in Cumbria is at a crisis point.

“As a small local provider we are committed to endeavouring to improve care standards in the county, but without support and adequate financial resource this will be impossible. A sad day for the home, Penrith and elderly care in Cumbria, but I fear this will not be the last home closure.”