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Bereaved families angry as The Elms care home set to close​.


The bereaved families of four care home residents are "angry" after health and care inspectors found it to be "not safe."

George Lowlett, Margaret Canham, David Poole, and Joyce Parrott, who all lived at The Elms, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, died in 2019 and 2020.

After the care regulator, the Care Quality Commission, rated The Elms "inadequate", Mr Poole's widow Jeanne said owners "put their self-serving interests" ahead of residents' welfare.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now confirmed it has been inspecting two other HC-One homes in Cambridgeshire, The Red House, Ramsey and The Cambridge care home, Chesterton, after being "alerted to concerns about the quality of care at both services.”

The Elms accommodates up to 37 people living with dementia but HC- One, one of the UK's largest care providers, confirmed the home would close after admitting "shortcomings in care" and failures in leadership.

A CQC inspection found The Elms to be "inadequate" in all of its measurements and inspectors said "people were not safe and were at risk of avoidable harm.”

The concerns of relatives of Mr Lowlett, Ms Canham and Mr Poole were reported in the media after their loved ones died in 2019, weeks after a meeting in which worries were raised about "poor care".

HC-One also apologised to the family of Joyce Parrott, who died in April 2020.

Her daughter said no attempt was made to resuscitate her mother after records were mixed up with a person of the same first name.

Cambridgeshire County Council made HC-One a "provider of concern" and suspended the referral of new residents to the company's five care homes in the county because of management concerns.

Following the inspection, Jeanne Poole said: "I am angry, and so are the other three bereaved families, because, firstly, we believe that the directors and staff of HC-One put their self-serving interests before the welfare of vulnerable residents trusted to their care.

"Secondly, we remain angry that Cambridgeshire County Council chose to take no action when concerns were raised in 2018 regarding the manager and staff at The Elms not delivering the fundamentals of care nor acting in the best interests of those they should have been looking after."

She added the families "sincerely hope that the death of our loved ones will force improvements to be made throughout HC-One and within Cambridgeshire County Council.”

An HC-One spokesman acknowledged it had "not provided the standard of care at The Elms that residents and their loved ones deserve" and said the shortcomings stemmed from severe recruitment challenges.

"We can only apologise for the upset these shortcomings and the resulting closure decision have caused."

He said the company had a new Cambridgeshire-based regional manager "working directly with frontline colleagues to review the care being provided.”

He added: "We appreciate the situation at The Elms will have caused concern across all the Cambridgeshire communities we serve, but at every level of the organisation we are focused on doing everything possible to win back the trust of the people living in our homes, their loved ones, and the wider communities."

He also refuted the council's claim that HC-One "had rejected or refused any discussion or offer related to a sale" and said: "To date, no formal offer has been received and no further discussions, formal or informal, have been held on the matter."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said the authority had been "intensively involved in seeking to drive up standards provided by HC-One at The Elms over a two-year period, precisely because of feedback received from residents and their families, as well as direct observation from our staff visiting the home on at least a monthly basis".

He added: "Our deepest sympathies rest with those who have lost loved ones and we reiterate our willingness to meet, investigate and act on any further concerns from relatives affected.

"We will fully review the timeline on when actions were instigated between 2018 and 2019 and commit to sharing this information with the families.