Care Homes : Providers / Agencies : Sector News / Closures / Scandals / Police Investigations

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
108 posts
Care homes deserve better than junk bond opportunists.

If the government can act on public services providers such as Carillion, why not on social care ?



Can we not ban hedge funds and private equity firms from owning care homes? Or, at the very least, write rules to prevent would-be debt wizards playing games of financial leverage in a sector that ought to be a model of balance-sheet stability?

Yes, it’s the annual (or so it feels) crisis at a large provider of residential care. Four Seasons, with 17,000 elderly people under its roofs these days, is a multiple offender. A Qatari-backed buyout firm lost its shirt when it paid £1.5bn for Four Seasons back in 2006.

Then it was Guy Hands’ turn when his private equity outfit, Terra Firma, thought the business was worth £825m in 2012 and soon discovered otherwise when it had to finance the deal with bonds yielding as much as 12.25%. Four Seasons has been overwhelmed by interest payments.

The unravelling of Hands’ losing bet has led to administration, with the process enforced by H/2 Capital Partners, a US hedge fund controlled by a US billionaire, Spencer Haber, whose chief talent is bagging distressed loans at knock-down prices. The administration has a long way to run, but Haber & co may even end up making a few quid as chief creditor if buyers can be found for Four Seasons’ actual operations.

As ever, all sides are anxious to reassure the poor residents that their care won’t be affected. There’s no reason to doubt that, since even the failure of Southern Cross in 2011 was more orderly than feared. But there is reason to wonder if this entire sector needs an ownership overhaul.

Financial engineers and junk bond opportunists should not be the natural owners and funders of large care homes companies. Far better to get more pension fund money, seeking lower but more stable returns, through the door.

In the outsourcing sector, the collapse of Carillion a year ago led the government to insist that providers of public services should have solid balance sheets, thus the rush of rights issues from the likes of Capita and Kier Group and the administration and debt-reduction plan at Interserve. Why should care homes be different? Given that entire sector is underpinned by local authority funding, the government ought to be able to to insist on greater financial strength.

The care homes industry has problems beyond an excess of debt, of course. Social care budgets have been squeezed; increases in the minimum wage have had a direct impact; and Brexit uncertainty may make hiring staff more difficult.

Yet is hard to avoid the conclusion that all would be easier to manage if the buyout brigade, trying and usually failing to generate supercharged short-term returns for themselves, was off the pitch.
40 years ago, nearly all the care homes and disability services in my area were run by the County Council or NHS.

Many now sold off, real shame. There was a fairly new home for the blind, we would often see them practising walking with white canes in the high street, learning how to cope.

As the mum of someone with learning difficulties, all I and my friends want is certainty that when we are gone, they will be well look after. A private company is never going to give us that. M has had some awful experiences with useless providers.

If it's OK for the state to run hospitals, why can't the state also run nursing homes, care homes, and domiciliary care services?
Once social care is recombined with the NHS , we ... the State's citizens ... will own all.

Pie in the sky ?

Or , the only REAL solution that should come out of the Green Paper ???
The ultimate owners are only interested in the property portfolios. They get in more in rent and leases than the profits from running any kind of care service.
Councils and government were short sighted when they subcontracted to the private sector. They were only looking at running costs (which seemed expensive) but ignored the property (capital) values. Now they cannot afford to buy or lease or rent premises to run services in. Hence the even more boken PFI schemes
Investigation into learning disabilities services run by major NHS contractor after police brought in over " Abuse" of patients.

Durham Constabulary investigating " Physical and psychological abuse " allegations at Whorlton Hall, County Durham which have led to 16 staff being suspended.


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An investigation has begun into a major care provider after police were called in over alleged psychological and physical abuse of patients with learning disabilities at one of its homes.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said inspectors would be reviewing these and similar services run by the NHS contractor Cygnet Health Care across the country – and appealed for anyone with concerns to come forward.

The Independent revealed on Friday that Durham Police had received reports of abuse at Whorlton Hall, a live-in facility for people with learning disabilities and complex needs near Barnard Castle, County Durham.

Cygnet, which has run the 17-bed centre since last year, is one of the UK’s largest care providers responsible for 3,000 patients across 140 sites.

It has suspended 16 of the 85 staff at Whorlton Hall over the abuse claims and it has now stopped taking in new patients.

Cygnet has come under increasing scrutiny in the past year after deaths at two of its mental health facilities and investigations by the CQC.


It acquired Whorlton Hall, alongside 25 other hospitals and care homes after a takeover of private care provider Danshell Group, in 2018.

“Durham Constabulary can confirm that, this week, they have launched a criminal investigation regarding concerns raised about alleged physical and psychological abuse by staff at Whorlton Hall, near Barnard Castle,” a police spokesperson said.

A Cygnet Health Care spokesperson said: “We acquired the Danshell Group a few months ago and allegations have been made against members of staff at one of the group’s hospitals, Whorlton Hall, regarding their treatment of service users earlier this year.

“We take these allegations extremely seriously. All members of staff who have been specifically mentioned have been suspended.”

Cygnet added that it had informed all relevant authorities of the allegations, and said it was committed to ensuring its high standards and culture were maintained across all of the Danshell Group’s facilities.

Revelations of abuse at Winterbourne View care home in 2011, which saw six care workers jailed, led to the collapse of operator Castlebeck.

The Danshell Group acquired Whorlton Hall alongside around 20 properties after the collapse of its rival in 2013.

Earlier this year the CQC revealed allegations of abuse at another former Danshell Group property, Thors Park in Essex, which cares for men with learning disabilities, following an inspection in February.

Cygnet said it had acknowledged the issues raised in the CQC report on Thors Park and had acted immediately following the inspection with a new manager and operations director to oversee changes.

“Cygnet Health Care’s own portfolio does not have any inadequate rated facilities and as an organisation patient care remains our top priority,” a Cygnet spokesperson added.

The CQC said it took “immediate steps” to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people currently at Whorlton Hall and was considering what further action was needed.

“This provider manages many hospitals and care homes across England some of which provide care for people with a learning disability and autism,” a spokesperson added.

“Our inspections show that these vary in quality. We are currently reviewing information about other services of this type operated by this provider, and would urge anyone who has concerns about care to contact us on 03000 616161 or via www.cqc.org.uk/sye.”

The CQC holds information from regular inspections and calls to its whistleblowing line. When asked, they said it was too early to say if any other facilities would be require further action.

Dan Scorer, head of policy and public affairs at Mencap, said: “These allegations are deeply shocking and disturbing. It’s now nearly eight years since the horror of the abuse of people with a learning disability at Winterbourne View was exposed. Yet the health and social care system is continuing to fail people with a learning disability.

“Alongside the police investigation, it is crucial that people with a learning disability and their families directly affected by these allegations are getting support and are safe”


NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group declined to comment.
Type one diabetic went more than three days without insulin before he was found dead at care home.



A type one diabetic hadn't taken his insulin for more than three days when he was found dead by a member of staff at a care home, an inquest heard.

James Delaney, 37, who lived at Sapphire House in Long Lane, Bradwell, was found unresponsive in his room on July 28, 2018.

An inquest into his death began at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich on Monday.

Former deputy manager of Sapphire House Kim Linstead claimed staff members did not receive training in how to deal with a patient with type one diabetes.

She said she had " Never been so unprepared for something ", adding that staff members were only given a talk lasting around one hour and 15 minutes before Mr Delaney's arrival.


Mr Delaney was diagnosed with type one diabetes in 1997 and had to administer insulin twice a day in order to manage his blood glucose levels.

He also suffered from a number of complex mental health difficulties, including a hypoglycaemic brain injury which he suffered following a insulin overdose when he was 19-years-old

In the days leading up to Mr Delaney's death, the court heard carers at Sapphire House hadn't been able to get the 37-year-old to administer his insulin or check his sugar levels.

On July 27, the day before Mr Delaney died, Mrs Linstead said staff had reported that he was unwell and had been vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea.

She said carers thought he had a "stomach bug".

The court heard the care home had a protocol that if a patient suffering from diabetes had gone more than 24 hours without taking insulin a general practitioner (GP) should have been called.

Mrs Linstead said this was something she " Wasn't aware of ".


On the morning of Mr Delaney's death, the former deputy manager said the 37-year-old was found on his bedroom floor having fallen out of bed the night before.

Mrs Linstead said she checked on Mr Delaney when she arrived at the care home at 7.50 that morning but he said he was "comfortable" in the position he was in.

She said staff members then made "regular" checks on him before he was found dead at around 10.35.

The inquest continues. No-one from Sapphire House has yet given evidence at the hearing.
The Guardian on the BBC Panorma program on Whorlton House :

Secret filming reveals abuse of disabled and autistic patients.

BBC Panorama films Whorlton Hall staff taunting, provoking and scaring vulnerable people.

Evidence of abusive treatment of disabled people has been captured by secret filming for BBC Panorama, in an echo of the Winterbourne View scandal eight years ago.

An undercover reporter employed as a care worker filmed colleagues taunting, provoking, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients with learning disabilities or autism at the private Whorlton Hall hospital near Barnard Castle, County Durham.

The footage, to be broadcast on Wednesday night, has striking parallels with Panorama’s reporting in 2011 of ill-treatment of patients at the Winterbourne View unit near Bristol. Ministers pledged to run down such hospitals, known as assessment and treatment units (ATUs), and move up to 3,000 people placed in them.

Action has since faltered, however, and more than 2,000 people remain in the units, some run by the NHS but others operated by private companies paid up to £4,000 a week for each patient referred to them because community services cannot deal with the individual’s behaviour.

Sir Stephen Bubb, a charity sector leader who was asked to review progress on the government’s plans in 2014, said the latest revelations showed the promise of reform had been broken. “We will continue to have these scandals while we have these institutions,” he warned.

The Panorama reporter Olivia Davies worked shifts at Whorlton Hall over a two-month period at the beginning of the year. She filmed staff referring to the 17-bed hospital as a “house of mongs” and to patients as “fat ****” and “a good ******* target”.

One female care worker is shown saying to a highly distressed woman: “If this is about your family, I’ve already told you they are ******* poison.” Glynis Murphy, a professor of clinical psychology and disability at Kent University’s Tizard Centre, comments in the programme: “I wouldn’t speak to a dog like that.”

In another segment, described by Murphy as “psychological torture”, male staff deliberately intimidate a young female patient who has a fear of men – and is supposed to be cared for by women – and use explicit sexual language and play on her phobia of balloons, seemingly to upset her further.

A third episode shows a male patient restrained on the floor by some of a group of seven staff present, one of whom has the man’s head trapped between his knees while laughing, wearing the man’s glasses and distributing chewing gum to the others. This staff member then tells another to strip the patient’s room of all his possessions, which she ostentatiously carries past him while he remains restrained and highly distressed.

Although there is no footage of assaults on patients, staff are shown discussing unauthorised restraint techniques and ways of inflicting pain without it being detected.

Davies said six care workers told her they had deliberately hurt patients. One is filmed saying: “If these guys say what we do to them, one day we will get into trouble.” He then recalls how a colleague dealt with a patient who “hit the deck like a sack of shit”.

A female care worker tells Davies she can be confident a female patient will not act up with her because she knows “I would ******* rugby tackle the **** down”.

Whorlton Hall was formerly owned by Castlebeck, the company that ran Winterbourne View, which closed after the scandal. When Castlebeck failed in 2013, Whorlton Hall was bought by the Danshell Group. Danshell was in turn taken over last year by US-owned Cygnet Health Care.

Cygnet said in a statement that it had been “shocked and deeply saddened” by Panorama’s revelations. “Those implicated in this programme have betrayed not only some of society’s most vulnerable people, but also the thousands of people at Cygnet who work daily with dedication and compassion to look after the people in their care,” it said.

The company said it had suspended the 16 members of staff believed to have been involved, informed the police as soon as it was made aware and moved all 12 patients to other units. The hospital was “now closed”.

Durham police have launched a criminal investigation, which is thought to involve four agency workers as well as the 16 staff, and the Care Quality Commission regulator has said it is reviewing all Cygnet services and has carried out unannounced inspections of several sites.

Whorlton Hall was rated “good” by the CQC at its previous full inspection in 2017 and Cygnet says inspectors visited on seven occasions in 2018-19. Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s mental health lead, said the commission had raised concerns about training and staffing but had not revoked the rating. “It is clear now that we missed what was really going on at Whorlton Hall, and we are sorry,” he said.

The scandal broke days after the CQC published a report on the use of restraint and seclusion in mental health services, and Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, announced a package of measures in response.

Ministers will now come under fresh pressure to address the ATU issue directly. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We treat any allegations of abuse with the utmost seriousness.”

The Government reacts ... at least verbally :

Whorlton Hall: Minister " Deeply sorry " for hospital abuse.

The abuse uncovered by the BBC at specialist hospital Whorlton Hall has been condemned as "appalling" by a government minister.



Care minister Caroline Dinenage told the House of Commons she was "deeply sorry that this has happened".

Undercover BBC Panorama filming showed adults with learning disabilities and autism being mocked, intimidated and restrained.

A police investigation has been launched and 16 staff suspended.

BBC Panorama aired the footage of its investigation into the privately-run, NHS-funded hospital in County Durham on Wednesday.

It was the result of two months of secret filming by undercover reporter Olivia Davies. Her footage included shocking scenes where some staff can be heard using offensive language to describe patients, while another calls the hospital a "house of mongs".

Part of the abuse was described as "psychological torture" by experts.

On Thursday, Ms Dinenage - a minister at the Department of Health and Social Care - made a statement to MPs and called the footage "disturbing".

"The actions revealed by this programme are quite simply appalling, there is no other word to describe it," she said.

"I absolutely condemn any abuse of this kind, completely and utterly."

She added: "On behalf of the health and care system, I am deeply sorry that this has happened.

"One thing we can all agree on... what was shown last night was not care, nor was it in anyway caring."

Ms Dinenage said after the government and the Care Quality Commission were told of the allegations of abuse at Whorlton Hall, "immediate steps" were taken to ensure the safety of the patients there.

And she listed three questions that needed to be asked: whether the activity at Whorlton Hall was criminal; whether the regulatory and inspection framework is working; and also over the commissioning of care services.

BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle said one of the questions being asked today is why it took a BBC Panorama programme to expose this, and why the authorities did not spot what was happening.

"The Care Quality Commission had been in three times in the 12 months prior to Panorama going in and they didn't spot the serious problems that were happening," he said.

Dr Paul Lelliott, from the CQC, previously told Panorama: "On this occasion it is quite clear that we did not pick up the abuse that was happening at Whorlton Hall. All I can do is apologise deeply to the people concerned."

Speaking to MPs, Ms Dinenage added: "There are also a range of questions more broadly about whether these types of institutions and these type of inpatient settings are ever an appropriate place to keep the vulnerable for any extended length of time.

"Where it is essential that somebody has to be supported at distance from their home, we will make sure that those arrangements are supervised.

"We won't tolerate having people out of sight and out of mind. Where someone with a learning disability or an autistic person has to be an inpatient out of area, they will be now visited every six weeks if they are a child or every eight weeks if they are an adult."

BBC Panorama's investigation comes eight years after the programme exposed the scandal of abuse at Winterbourne View, another specialist hospital, near Bristol.

Winterbourne View was shut down and the government committed to closing other specialist hospitals too, saying care should be provided in the community.

Bed numbers have been reduced - from 3,400 to below 2,300 since 2012 in England - but that falls short of the government's target to get the figure down to below 1,700 by March this year.

Cygnet, the firm which runs the unit, said it was "shocked and deeply saddened".

The company only took over the running of the centre at the turn of the year and said it was "co-operating fully" with the police investigation.

All the patients have been transferred to other services and the hospital closed down, Cygnet said.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it treated allegations of abuse with the "utmost seriousness", but could not comment any further because of the police investigation.
Whorlton Hall : Hospital abuse missed despite at least 100 official visits.
Inspectors, council officials and NHS staff all visited the County Durham unit - sometimes in teams of two or three over the course of several days.

But the scale of mistreatment of people there with learning disabilities and autism was not spotted.

Campaigners said the authorities had failed in their jobs.



https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48388430

Pick the bones out of that !
Whorlton Hall : Ten arrested over abuse allegations.


Ten workers have been arrested over the alleged abuse of patients with learning difficulties at a hospital.

Seven men and three women were arrested at addresses in Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Stockton.

Undercover filming by BBC Panorama at Whorlton Hall in County Durham appeared to show patients being mocked, intimidated and restrained.

The site had at least 100 visits by official agencies in the year before the abuse was discovered.

Those arrested were being questioned about offences relating to abuse and neglect at the privately-run NHS-funded unit, Durham Police said.

Care minister Caroline Dinenage told the House of Commons she was "deeply sorry that this has happened".



No doubt . more news will follow ... as and when.
108 posts