West Sussex Council has announced it is removing four people from Orchard Lodge, one of nine care homes police are investigating over resident deaths.
The move, which has been opposed by some residents and their families and the home’s provider Sussex Health Care (SHC), was carried out following a risk assessment of the service.
A council spokesperson said: “West Sussex County Council has taken the decision to move four people who are currently in residential care at the care home Orchard Lodge. These are people the county council has placed in the home.
“The county council’s decision follows a further risk assessment of the clinical care and safety being provided for these individuals. Orchard Lodge Care Home is run by Sussex Health Care and has recently received an Inadequate rating from CQC.
“We are talking to all other organisations which fund people at the home about our concerns and the action we are taking.
“We have spoken to all the families of these people and continue to talk to them and answer any questions or concerns they may have. Whilst we recognise that this decision is not an easy one, we must place the care and safety of these vulnerable individuals above all other considerations. The latest concerns were identified as part of the ongoing investigation about Sussex Health Care homes.
“All four people have been found alternative places locally.”
The move comes after the police announced last month that it was widening an investigation into SHC homes (see Probe widened into Sussex Health Care deaths).
A SHC spokesperson said: “West Sussex County Council’s actions are absolutely unwarranted and, we believe, unlawful. Without doubt they are causing unnecessary and very significant distress to vulnerable people, their families and loved ones. By seeking to place residents with specialist nursing needs in residential services not qualified to meet those needs, they are potentially placing people at serious risk of harm.
“Several families are challenging the County’s decision and are determined to ensure their loved ones are able to stay in the home that has looked after them for years. Contrary to the County’s statement, at least one family has accused the County of not just ignoring their wishes, but using ‘bullying and intimidating’ tactics by withdrawing care funding regardless of the family’s wishes, an action which is in clear breach of the law.
“We have sought to work openly and transparently with the County, with the best interests of residents at the forefront of what we do. We are shocked and exceptionally disappointed that the County has seemingly arbitrarily chosen to undermine that hard work, and we are working with all responsible agencies to bring this to a resolution in the best interest of the residents themselves.”