Residents were frightened, dirty, and at risk of harm in care home which was shut down, report reveals

PUBLISHED: 08:28 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 29 January 2019

Holmwood Care Home 
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018

Holmwood Care Home Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

The damning details behind the closure of a Norwich care home for people with mental health issues have been revealed.

Holmwood Care Home in Harvey Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, was ordered to close on December 12.

At the time it was reported the closure was over “serious concerns” raised by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

But now the shocking conditions residents lived in have been revealed in a report published last week.

Just some of the failings identified included:

Holmwood Care Home 
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Holmwood Care Home Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

• People’s belongings were covered with a layer of mould and the home smelt “damp and musty” after water leaks were not repaired.

• Toilets and equipment were covered in stains and marks of urine and faeces.

• The residents themselves were dirty - one had not showered for three weeks, many wore stained and unclean clothes, and another had not brushed their teeth for at least 10 days.

• Medicines were not kept locked away and were stolen during a break in.

Leader for the Labour group, George Nobbs, watches the count for the county council elections at St Andrews Hall, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLeader for the Labour group, George Nobbs, watches the count for the county council elections at St Andrews Hall, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

• One person said they felt frightened living there, another regularly barricaded themselves in their room.

• Staff were cold towards or ignored residents, in one instance a resident held on to a staff member’s sleeve looking for reassurance during a meal time. However the staff member did not react and instead spoke with a colleague.

Inspectors also found a number of issues raised between their first and second visits had not been fixed.

Some bedrooms had half eaten and decomposing pieces of food.

While another had so many belongings in it, the resident did not have a clear walkway to their bed.

Conditions at the home were so bad inspectors reported the home to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, the local authority safeguarding team and the local health authority infection prevention control team.

One resident told inspectors: “I had a shower about three weeks ago, I strip wash the rest of the time.”

While another had visibly unclean teeth during the first inspection - when inspectors returned 10 days later the person still had not cleaned their teeth because they did not have a toothbrush and staff had not bought one, or helped the person to buy one.

Inspectors found neither of the home’s washing machines were working.

The report said: “Soiled laundry was stacked four bags high, and precautions had not been taken by staff to store contaminated laundry separately.”

They were soon fixed but there was no clean laundry when inspectors looked in the linen cupboard.

And staff did not know whether residents were at risk. When asked about specific residents, the manager gave information which did not match with care records.

One resident said: “I feel frightened. One person keeps smashing things. They previously pushed me over.”

Another added: “I feel safe, but it is often very noisy here.”

The CQC also ordered the home to fix issues with exposed hot pipes and windows which were not restricted.

In both cases the provider wrote to the CQC to assure them this had been done, but when inspectors returned they found this was not the case.

George Nobbs, Labour county councillor for Crome ward, said the report was “horrific”.

He said: “What’s all the more worrying about it is it seems to have happened quite quickly. It really is an appalling state of affairs.”

A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services said: ”These disgusting conditions are indicative of how far too many people are living, neglected in squalor and filth.

”With the closure of long-stay NHS facilities and drastic cuts to community services, the public sector exemplar has disappeared.

”Yet again, just as happened at Mundesley Hospital, we are reliant on the Care Quality Commission to call out disgraceful treatment which our local bureaucrats seem to believe is acceptable and are happy to fund.

“CQC is the only part of the health and social care system in Norfolk which works.”

Norfolk County Council said it raised concerns with the CQC in October last year, before the CQC cancelled its registration in December.

All 24 residents were moved to new accommodation within three days.

A spokesman said while the council would support care homes “we are equally clear that we will be intolerant of those unable to achieve improvement, or sustain their performance”.

Baytree Care Limited, which ran Holmwood, was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Who owned Holmwood?

Holmwood was run by London-based Baytree Care, whose directors are Chhagan and Nalini Mistry.

On their website it showed as well as the Norwich property, they also run Baytree Lodge, in Finchley, London, which is rated as good by the CQC.

However, the directors’ names also reveal a complex web of care providers and a parent company.

The Baytree website also mentions providers called Shila House and Bramley House.

However according to CQC reports Shila House, in Enfield is run by Simiks Care Limited, of which the Mistrys are also directors. The provider is rated as good and the Baytree website used Simiks Care and Baytree Care interchangeably at points.

The pair are also directors of Nepa Healthcare Limited, Copthorne Healthcare Ltd, and Aveland Court Care Limited.

All are subsidiaries of Trymax Investments Limited, which in its most recent accounts from March last year reported a turnover of £3m and a operating profit of £705,038.

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