Monday 19 March 2018
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Evidence of neglect at Partridge Care Centre in Harlow uncovered

Evidence of neglect and abuse at a private nursing home in Essex has been uncovered by a BBC investigation.

In August 2011 Partridge Care Centre, in Harlow, was at the centre of a police inquiry after three people were taken to hospital with "diabetes related problems".

Two women in their 80s died, although Essex Police dropped the investigation saying there was no evidence of "any relevant criminal offences".

The home's owner Rushcliffe Care Limited acknowledged there had been problems in the past, but claimed it had taken steps to make sure residents' "health and well-being are paramount".

But documents seen by BBC Essex show there were serious problems at the home before the police investigation.

Partridge Care Centre is a residential nursing home specialising in looking after people with a range of neurological conditions.

It is run by Rushcliffe Care, which also owns 23 other homes.

The centre has rooms for 117 residents, although at the moment it is less than half full, and presently employs about 120 staff.

Former worker at the home Graham Flack said he had witnessed abuse and neglect of residents during his time there.

"There was an incident where a certain member of staff was sitting on a resident, who was quite challenging… I would say restraining someone like you see on telly via the police," he said.

"At the end of the day no-one deserves to be held or pushed in any form or manner. It was not nice, not nice."

Lesley Minchin's mother Eileen Jarvis suffered from dementia and required specialist care.

She moved into the home in February 2011, with instructions that she should not be left alone because she was likely to fall.

According to a letter from the centre's manager to the family, Mrs Jarvis was left unattended during a shift change.

She got up, fell and broke her hip. It was two hours before staff at the home called the emergency services.

Mrs Minchin said she had got to the home at the same time as the paramedics.

'Screamed out'

"She was screaming out in pain when I arrived there and they were trying to ask her where the pain was," Mrs Minchin said.

"She said she didn't know but was hurting. When they touched her leg, she just screamed out."

Mrs Minchin claimed many of the problems at the home were caused by a lack of employees.

"The staff, on the whole, were very, very good. There just wasn't enough of them," she said.

The Care Quality Commission has carried out a series of inspections at Partridge Care Centre since May.

In the most recent report published in December, the health watchdog said it had minor concerns over staffing levels.

"Overall we found that there were sufficient numbers of staff available in the home, however there was a lack of effective leadership and deployment due to the large numbers of agency staff working there."

The CQC also found failings in four of the five basic standards during this inspection, including concerns about whether residents were safe in the home and whether they are receiving appropriate treatment.

Written warnings

BBC Essex has seen a report written after a surprise visit to the home by two managers in May 2011.

They found that several staff were asleep while on duty, a serious disciplinary offence.

The managers found one resident lying on an unmade bed that was smeared with faeces. Another was found sitting on the floor and had soiled themselves.

Other residents were found wandering around on their own, yet more were found in bed fully clothed.

The building was said to have smelt of urine and one of the units had no lights on.

Further documents show that some of the staff involved were only given written warnings.

An internal audit carried out by staff at Partridge Care Centre in July found that most of the residents' rooms were dirty.

Of the 21 homes run by Rushcliffe Care Limited, eight of them are failing at least one of the basic standards expected by the CQC.

'Unsubstantiated allegations'

According to its accounts, in the past year the company posted a £1.6m profit.

In a statement, the company said: "Following a series of unfortunate locally mismanaged events at Partridge Care Centre over the past nine months, Rushcliffe Care Group have taken measures so that the health and wellbeing of the centres' residents are paramount.

"We are unable to comment on individual unsubstantiated allegations, which have been made, but we... take all complaints and allegations seriously and when brought to our attention they are dealt with promptly and fairly."

Essex County Council said it had suspended the placement of residents at the home after the hospital referrals related to diabetes in August.

In a statement, Ann Naylor, cabinet member for adult health, said: "The formal suspension of placements at Partridge Care Centre will remain in place, in consultation with Rushcliffe Care management, until such time that partners are fully satisfied that sustainable improvements in the wellbeing and care of residents have been achieved."