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West Sussex care home closed after damning CQC inspections

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A care home in West Sussex has been urgently shut down with residents told to leave immediately after a series of damning inspections by the Care Quality Commission.

Horncastle House in the village of Sharpthorne near East Grinstead, was inspected in March, August and again last week by the CQC.

“We do not accept the allegations that have led to the closure”

Horncastle House spokesperson

The home had five nursing staff and a total workforce of 23. It can accommodate up to 43 residents and in August there were 26 people using the service.

The CQC’s August inspection report rated the care home “inadequate” overall and “requiring improvement” for caring and responsiveness. The sudden closure this month came the day after a re-inspection on 13 September - the report from this visit has yet to be published. The closure is subject to appeal.

In August, the CQC found “the service was not effective”. There was a lack of leadership with no registered manager in post. There were “not enough staff deployed to meet people’s needs”, often they were agency staff and not always knowledgeable about people’s needs, the report said.

“We have stepped in to find alternative accommodation for all of the residents, as a matter of urgency”

West Sussex County Council spokesperson

Known risks, including risks associated with choking, falls, challenging behaviour and the environment, had not been minimised, the CQC found.

Horncastle House’s provider, SHC Clemsfold Group Limited, also known as Sussex Health Care, was subject to a police investigation relating to other locations, the report noted.

Care Quality Commission

Debbie Ivanova

Debbie Ivanova, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care, said:  “Following this recent inspection CQC has taken urgent enforcement action to protect people living in the service and to ensure significant and immediate improvements take place. We will publish a full report detailing our findings and the enforcement action against the provider as soon as we can.”

A spokesperson for Horncastle House said: “We are hugely disappointed by the CQC’s sudden decision to close Horncastle House. We do not accept the allegations that have led to the closure and believe that the additional measures our senior management team swiftly put in place would have enabled us to continue to provide high quality care to our residents.”

In relation to staff, the spokesperson said: “We will be working with staff to ensure that they are given full support and opportunities to move into new roles. We are currently undertaking an in-depth review of activity across the home and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Families of the residents were reported to have criticised the decision to close the care home so quickly. One relative Tim Leader, told the BBC: “There are loved ones there now crying not knowing what to do. How can the Care Quality Commission make this decision without first ensuring adequate provision has been made for the current residents?”

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “As the local safeguarding authority, [we have] stepped in to work closely with residents, their families and other partners to find alternative accommodation for all of the residents, as a matter of urgency. All of the residents have now been found new placements and we continue to support them and their relatives.”

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