Deaths at Croydon care home sparks police investigation

Police are investigating a Croydon care home after two of its residents died.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Tuesday a probe is underway into allegations of neglect at Elmwood Nursing Home, following the deaths of a man and a woman in their 80s.

The home scored the lowest rating of ‘Inadequate’ in an inspection by the watchdog Care Quality Commission (CQC) last month and was put into special measures.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Detectives from the Community Safety Unit at Croydon are working with the Care Quality Commission following allegations of potential neglect at a care home.

“The allegations were made to police following the deaths of a man and woman, who were both aged in their early 80s. There have been no arrests.”

A relative of a former resident told SWLondoner she removed her grandfather from Elmwood because of concern about the care he received during the last two weeks of his life.

Lissa Williams, 37, removed her grandfather, Gordon Lippett (pictured), from the home in May 2017, where he had been on palliative care.

The stay-at-home mum claimed Gordon – who suffered from dementia and cancer – was left sitting in his own vomit multiple times, as inaccuracies in his care-plan meant he was repeatedly fed food he could not digest.

On another occasion, Gordon was allegedly left slumped outside in his wheelchair outside for three hours, despite having not been out of bed for more than an hour a day over the previous two months.

The former cab-driver passed away shortly after being removed from the home, aged 77.

The family had meetings with the home and social services about his care, to try and prevent poor care happening to other residents.

As a result, the care home allegedly removed claims about being specialists in palliative care from their website and sent an apology letter to the family.

Ms Williams added: “But even a year on from my grandad, there’s still an issue. It’s just sad that it’s had to be so many people that have been hurt or not cared for properly for it to get to this point.”

There is no suggestion that Mr Lippett’s removal from the home is related to the current police investigation.

In their report, CQC inspectors said: “People continued to be at risk of unsafe care and treatment. We observed people being ignored and spoken to in an impolite manner.

“We saw people treated in ways that were not dignified and we found that people’s privacy was not always respected.”

Inspectors also found the service was not well-led, residents did not always receive support needed to protect from malnourishment and inaccuracies in care plans were putting residents at risk.

The CQC said it could not comment on whether enforcement action was being taken against the home for legal reasons.

Croydon Council suspended new council placements at the home last year because of concerns of the way it was being run.

Elmwood is run by HC-One, Britain’s largest care home operator, which has hundreds of homes across the country.

In October, HC-One was fined nearly £60,000 after a 72-year-old Elmwood resident was badly burned sitting on a portable heater.

Polly Dunkley, who had vascular dementia, required skin grafts and spent two months in hospital following the accident, which was found to have been avoidable.

A council spokesperson said: “Council officers have been on regular visits to monitor care standards and offer staff training and support.

“This will continue and increase as a result of the latest CQC inspection, and we are also making sure that the home’s new management keeps residents fully informed about their action plan to improve the home’s rating.”

A HC-One spokesperson said: “We have apologised to Mr Lippett’s family. The services we provided them fell short of the high standards we aim to provide for all our Residents.

“This is not what we want any resident or family member to experience. We completed a comprehensive internal investigation and have made improvements in response to our findings.

“Following recent feedback, we continue to work closely with all authorities, particularly the Local Authority and Care Quality Commission, to make sure the home is providing the high-quality service all Residents expect and deserve.

Our senior and regional teams are supporting the home to make these improvements, with positive progress already noted by our partners, and this situation is being closely followed at the highest levels of our organisation.”

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