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Daughter Of Orchid View Resident Calls For Urgent Action Against Commercially Run Care Industry

Inquest Concludes Into Deaths Of 19 Former Care Home Residents


The daughter of a dementia patient subjected to ‘horrendous’ care at a Sussex nursing home says the Government must take ‘urgent’ action to stop the industry being run commercially which she believes compromises care standards and patient safety.

Doris Fielding’s family believe she was the last patient to be admitted to Orchid View Care Home in June 2011 before it shut down four months later. Her daughter Judith Charatan said she is ‘appalled’ that staff knew the home was likely to be closed because of the catalogue of failings, but admitted her in a bid to fill beds and make profit.

Doris became very poorly at Orchid View and lost a significant amount of weight to the point she had to be admitted to hospital. Judith believes if the home had not been shut down and her mother had been sent back, she would certainly have died there. Instead, she was referred to another home where she was well cared for until she died on Christmas Day in 2011.

Following a five-week inquest into the deaths of Doris and 18 other residents at the home, Coroner Penelope Schofield, today (18 October) said Dorris died of natural causes but that her care at Orchid View was ‘suboptimal’

Judith said: “I quickly realised that everything that had appealed to me about Orchid View being a safe place for my mum was just cosmetic, such as the fabric of the building and the brochures that marketed it so well. The actual standards of care being given were nothing short of appalling.

“I soon lost confidence in the quality of care being provided and became untrusting of what I was being told by staff.  At the time I did not know the scale of problems or what had happened before to other residents.
“Not long after being admitted Mum lost weight and seemed disinterested in everything. She often seemed very anxious and agitated and would often repeat herself saying ‘help me’ and ‘something is not right’. 
“There was either not enough or a high turnover of staff.  Problems kept emerging and agencies like the Care Quality Commission and social services would get called in. Sometimes there were attempts to make improvements but in the end staff, it would seem, just became very complacent about this.  The main problem was that Orchid View was run as purely a commercial venture to make a profit but compromised care standards as a result.

“My mum and elderly people across the country deserve a good quality of life even if they are in failing health or near the end of their lives.

“The Government keeps talking about using Ofsted style inspections and appointing ‘mystery shoppers’ but measures like this won’t actually tackle the problem with this country’s care industry because they are purely cosmetic.”

Judith added: “The Government needs to wake up and take heed.  More funding, resources, better training and increased standards amongst those that work in this industry are the only ways to truly tackle the crisis. 

“It needs people taking more of an active involvement such as a board of Governors like we see in schools.  People with recognised standing within the community could actively be encouraged to be involved and the whole industry requires more checks and balances to prevent such failings from continuing. 
“People who are privately funding the care of a loved one often do not know where to go to get accurate information on care homes. There needs to be a specialist or point of contact within an agency such as social services which represents the needs of the elderly to ensure they are actually met.

“My mum was basically used as a cash cow because she was privately funded and this will continue to happen until patient safety is put ahead of commercial interests in the care industry.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Medical Negligence Claims.