Care home in Bury St Edmunds dumps charity that helped make it ‘outstanding’

Staff and residents pictured outside St Peter's Court, in Bury St Edmunds, following their 'outstand

Staff and residents pictured outside St Peter's Court, in Bury St Edmunds, following their 'outstanding' CQC inspection - Credit: Archant

The founder and chief executive of a charity which supports and encourages young people across the east of England has accused a Bury St Edmunds care home of dumping a project which he claimed helped it to gain an “outstanding” rating.

Tony Gearing, who was awarded an MBE this year for his work with youngsters and runs YOPEY, the Young People of the Year charity, said St Peter’s Care Home, in Out Risbygate, gained the prestigious rating because of the link up with his organisation.

But the care home dismissed his claims.

In October 2015 the home was offered a trial befriender scheme where Mr Gearing recruited young people who came into the care home to visit lonely residents. The scheme was funded by grants but that when these ended he asked that the home consider taking over the funding.

The care home’s then management agreed.

For the first two years the YOPEY Befriender scheme was paid for by £7,000 in grants from Aviva, the insurance giant, and Suffolk Community Foundation. Both bodies wanted to see the scheme become sustainable.

From November 2015 until this month (December 2017) a total of 30 14 to 15-year-olds from County Upper and St Benedict’s visited St Peter’s hundreds of times.

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As the grant money was coming to an end this October Mr Gearing approached the care home asking if they would like the scheme to continue asking for £2,500 to recruit new young people and continue it for a third year ... but they declined.

Last month the Care Quality Commission published a new inspection report on St Peter’s House and rated it as “outstanding” – the first time the care home has been rated that highly during its existence and an honour given to only 1% of care homes in the country.

In the 19-page report there were several references to YOPEY Befrienders, although not by name.

“I was delighted we had contributed to St Peter’s success and given that the results of the CQC’s inspection had been revealed after the owners’ initial refusal I wondered whether they would think again,” said Mr Gearing.

And armed with this knowledge he asked if they would reconsider but they declined again.

“What really disappoints me is that not once have the owners of St Peter’s thanked the young people for contributing to their business’s success. I also think there will be many residents’ families upset when they realise the children are no longer visiting,” he added.

Naomi Lucas-Adams, from the Care Quality Commission who carried out the inspection, said: “The mention of the befriending scheme in the report is an indication that this information contributed to the overall rating.”

However, the registered manager at St Peter’s, Alastair Rayner, dismissed the claims saying: “We do not believe that YOPEY had any bearings on the final result of the report.”