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Coroner's findings of care home neglect.

The Coroner for West Sussex, Penelope Schofield, has said there was “institutionalised abuse” at Orchid View Care Home in Copthorne.  The Coroner gave her views as she ruled that neglect contributed to the deaths of 5 elderly people who died at the care home.

The Coroner went on to say that those involved in the neglect of pensioners in the now defunct home should be “ashamed”.  It was announced that a serious case review has been set up.

The inquest had lasted for 5 weeks and heard how some residents were given wrong doses of medication and left unattended due to staff shortages.  The inquest also heard that call bells were often not answered for long periods or could not be reached by elderly people living at the home.

The Coroner described the care home as “completely mis-managed and under staffed and failed to provide a safe environment for residents”.

Schofield went on to say that it was “disgraceful” that the home was allowed to run in the way it was for around two years.  She also criticised the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which gave Orchid View a “good” rating in 2010 – a year before it shut.

The Coroner said that 19 residents at Orchid View suffered “sub-optimal care”.  All of those residents died from natural causes.  Five of those who died from natural causes were found to have suffered neglect that may have had an impact upon their health.  A former employee of the home, Lisa Martin, first informed the Police of the problems at the care home.  Martin had worked as an administrator at the home and said that she was asked to shred forms relating to a resident who had to be admitted to hospital.  The “final straw” for Martin came when she was told by a nurse that they had found 28 drug errors from just one night shift.  At this point Martin called the Police., who arrived the next day.

The care home, which was run by Southern Cross, was closed down in late 2011.  A subsequent investigation resulted in 5 people being arrested, including some on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence.  There was insufficient evidence to support a prosecution and the case was passed to the Coroner.

Amanda Rogers, Director of Adult Services for West Sussex County Council, said “This was a shocking example of poor care.  As the inquest has made clear, these were serious cases and families had every reason to expect better”.

Commenting on the story, Rachel Griffiths from the CNCI team said “We are shocked and appalled by the culture and failings at Orchid View.  The residents at the home were vulnerable people.  The costs of staying at this home were substantial.  Residents paid significant sums in the expectation that they would be cared for.  The impression from the evidence at this inquest is that they were simply exploited and neglected”.