Suffolk: Care home closed to new residents after emergency inspection
A second Care UK residential home in Suffolk has been forced to close to new residents, just months after opening.
Asterbury Place, in Aster Road, Ipswich was closed to new admissions on Tuesday evening – just hours before county councillors were due to discuss problems that led to a similar closure at Mildenhall Lodge.
That has now been closed to new council residents for nearly three months.
This means that two out of the three brand-new Care UK homes in Suffolk now have suspensions on new admissions. A fourth care home, Mills Meadow in Framlingham, is currently being rebuilt by the company.
The move has caused deep concern at Suffolk County Council which transferred its own residential homes to Care UK nearly two years ago as part of a £60 million deal to build 10 new homes.
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The county’s cabinet member for adult care Dr Alan Murray struggled to contain his irritation as he said: “It is extremely disappointing for the people at Suffolk County Council and Care UK that we need to see an improvement on both these occasions as the result of a failure in terms of the best quality of care.”
Dr Murray became aware of concerns on Tuesday afternoon – and the safeguarding team arrived at the home shortly afterwards.
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Asterbury Place currently has 55 residents, the overwhelming majority paid for by the county council, but has a capacity of 80.
Yesterday the county’s health scrutiny committee was looking at the situation at Mildenhall Lodge which remains under suspension.
That was closed to new residents at the end of July, just days before an inspection by the Care Quality Commission which found problems with four of the five criteria it was judged against.
Officials from Care UK were at the meeting coming under fire from both county and district councillors.
Carole Hunt, chief operating officer at Care UK, told the meeting: “I would like to apologise on behalf of Care UK for the failures in quality care at Mildenhall Lodge and we totally accept it is unacceptable.”
She said the company had tightened up its procedures in an attempt to ensure there was no repeat of the problems.
However opposition adult care spokeswoman Sarah Adams raised the suspension at Asterbury Place.
She said it raised serious concerns about how well a large company like Care UK could manage individual homes – and hoped the CQC would soon inspect other new homes run by the company.
Ms Hunt said she had no details of the case because the investigation was still at a very early stage: “We were made aware of this yesterday evening by we cannot comment. There is one safeguarding referral. I understand it is from a social worker.”
Mid Suffolk councillor Elizabeth Gibson-Harries said Care UK were due to build new homes in her area – and wanted an assurance there would be no repeat of the problems seen at Mildenhall.
Mildenhall Lodge remains closed to new county council residents. The suspension will only be lifted once it has been given a clean bill of health by the CQC following a second inspection at the end of last month.
Ms Hunt said the company was due to send its response to the second inspection back to the CQC at the end of this week, and the final report should be published some time after that.