I’ve mentioned Southern Cross Healthcare several times recently. Today, a Coroner had fairly meaningful words to say about a Southern Cross care home, Swiss Cottage nursing home, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, after a man died as a result of ‘inexcusable failures’ by care home staff. Britain’s largest care home provider was criticised after a pensioner died as a direct result of ‘inexcusable failures’ at the hands of Southern Cross Healthcare’s staff.
Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner David Morris’ words: ‘There was a failure of professional responsibility at all levels. Mr Simper, whilst incapacitated by rapidly deteriorating physical and mental health, died on this date for want of care by those charged with it.’
Another report of the same story, this time via BBC News. I’m not a natural reader of the Daily Mail, so I always try to match the content elsewhere, and the BBC is normally reliable.
There’s one mutually shared aspect of every single sad story of neglect that I come across – along the lines of ‘lessons will be learned’ :
Sarah O’Mara, Area Manager for Southern Cross Healthcare, said that a full investigation had been carried out following the death of Mr Simper.
She said: ‘Following Mr Simper’s death, Southern Cross co-operated with the Police and other authorities in their investigations.
‘We also undertook a comprehensive internal review in consultation with social services and the Care Quality Commission.
‘As a result, significant steps have been taken to improve the quality of care provided at Swiss Cottage.
‘The health and well being of residents is our priority. Under the new leadership, staff are focused on providing the very best and most professional care.’
These words become meaningless after a while, and the story of Mr Simper echoes the experience of my own relative, and also the same questions I have been asking for more than a couple of years now:
- How can a care home, provided by one of the biggest, richest, fattest care home providers in the UK, be allowed to open and operate, if it then takes the death of a vulnerable resident for an “Action Plan” to be put in place to achieve the very standards of care we all expect to find in any care home? And all that, in our case, within 6 months of the care home opening and receiving residents.
- Why does it take an investigation by the Local Authority, Social Services, CQC (CSCI as was), the local commissioning team, the police, the coroner for ‘significant steps’ to be taken to provide the quality of care that a big care provider should know all about? And the home is then not allowed to accept new residents for a full year, in order for ‘acceptable standards of care’ to be seen to be present – in our case, again.
- Why is it necessary for someone to die, before quality care is provided’?
- Why are so many of these investigations conducted ‘behind closed doors’ unless a coroner is involved, so that the general public knows nothing about it all, knows nothing of the ‘clean up’ that is conducted, knows nothing of the pain it causes? That is the burning question for me. Although there are other questions simmering away at present.