'Extreme concern' for vulnerable people in company's care homes

Care home in special measures

Treehaven Rants care home has been put in special measures. Inset: North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker and Healthwatch Norfolk chief executive Alex Stewart. - Credit: Danielle Booden/Denise Bradley/UK Parliament

A watchdog has called for a "health-check" of a Norfolk care company's homes after inspectors put one of its properties into special measures - just weeks after a scathing report into the deaths of patients at a hospital it owned.

And an MP said he is "extremely concerned" about people living in the company's other care homes - with Norfolk County Council leaders having already urged families to consider taking them out.

The spotlight has fallen on Dereham-based Jeesal group again after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Treehaven Rants, which provides residential care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, as inadequate.

Inspectors, who visited in July and published their report this week, said the West Runton home was dirty, poorly led and not safe.

Treehaven Rants on Sandy Lane in West Runton.

Treehaven Rants on Sandy Lane in West Runton. - Credit: Danielle Booden

It came just weeks after a serious case review into the deaths of Ben King, 32, Nicholas Briant, 33, and Joanna Bailey, 36, who died while patients at Jeesal group's hospital at Cawston Park, near Aylsham.

That review found patients at the hospital, which has since closed, had been overmedicated, excessively restrained and ill-treated, with concerns raised by families ignored.

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

And Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, health and social care champion, said he was "extremely concerned" about the latest inspection findings.

He said: "I am seeking reassurance from both the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Norfolk County Council that the needs of residents and their families are being acted upon.

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"I have also requested that any care being provided by the Jeesal Group is given a health-check by both organisations."

Conservative Duncan Baker speaks after becoming the new MP for North Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Duncan Baker, Conservative MP for North Norfolk, said: "I'm very concerned to hear of another failed inspection by the CQC of a home run by the Jeesal Group, particularly given the nature of their failings and I was pleased to hear the county council will facilitate a move for residents who want to do so.

"I am extremely concerned for those living in homes run by Jeesal Care and urge them to urgently consider how they are running their other services and to do all they can to ensure the quality and dignity of care for those living with them.”

A spokesperson for Norfolk and Waveney CCG said: "We are working closely with our local authority partners to ensure that a small number of joint-funded patients currently placed at Treehaven Rants care home are supported while the provider makes the required improvements.

"These patients have recently had their health needs reviewed by the CCG’s learning disability and autism lead nurse.

"We remain committed to changing how we provide services for people with a learning disability, autism or both in Norfolk and Waveney and are developing an ambitious improvement programme that supports this work.”

Norfolk County Council is funding or partially funding 29 people to be cared for in Jeesal's nine county care homes.

The company's Westbrook House care home in Cromer was shut down after the Care Quality Commission placed it into special measures last year.

Last month, inspectors rated Ashwood House in Buxton and Casarita in Taverham as requiring improvement.

Casarita had been rated good in the previous 2018 inspection, while it was a successive requires improvement for Ashwood House.

This week also saw the publication of a report into Creswick House in Fakenham.

Its rating dropped from 2019's good to requires improvement and inspectors rated it inadequate when it came to keeping people safe.

But inspectors praised the group's home at Middleton's Lane in Hellesdon after an inspection in August, which retained its good rating.

Inspectors said staff were well trained, safeguarding concerns were reported and there was a "positive culture".

However, a summer inspection of Salcasa in Coltishall saw its rating drop from good to requires improvement.

The last published reports for Lilas House and Shulas House in Cromer were 2017 when they were rated as good. Vicarage Road in Cromer was rated good in 2019.

Inspectors have been back to all three homes since, but their findings have yet to be published.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

James Bullion, director of adult social care at Norfolk County Council previously said the council had "lost confidence" in Jeesal group.

Last week, Bill Borrett, the council's cabinet member for adult social care, urged families, who have loved ones in Jeesal homes, to consider taking them out.

Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Picture: Matthew Ush

Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Jeesal group did not respond to requests for an interview.

They previously apologised for what happened at Cawston Park and said the care the three patients who died received was "far below the standards we would have expected".

In response to the Treehaven report, the company apologised for the "drop in performance" and said action was being taken to bring it "back up to standard".