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Orchid View scandal: Families say care homes 'have long way to go'

Wilfred Gardner, Margaret Tucker, Jean Leatherbarrow, Jean Halfpenny, Enid Trodden, Bertram Jerome and Doris Fielding Image copyright other
Image caption An inquest found all 19 people who died received "suboptimal" care and five cases involved neglect

Relatives of elderly people who died at a scandal-hit care home in West Sussex have said their confidence in the system is yet to be restored.

An inquest into 19 unexplained deaths at Orchid View, in Copthorne, found neglect contributed to five of them.

Families have met health and social services professionals to hear about progress made since a serious case review report was published in June.

"There is a long way to go," they said in a statement earlier.

"It hasn't restored our confidence just yet, but getting everyone at the event showed that those in authority are willing to make the necessary changes that are so desperately needed in West Sussex."

West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield said last year the home, where the 19 deaths took place between 2009 and 2011, was mismanaged, understaffed and riddled with institutionalised abuse.

At the time Orchid View was run by Southern Cross.

The company has since gone out of business and the home was closed before reopening under a new name and management.

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Orchid View closed and reopened with a new name and new management

The serious case review, commissioned by the West Sussex Adults Safeguarding Board, made 34 recommendations about West Sussex care homes.

They included:

  • Care operators must prove they can recruit and keep trained and skilled staff
  • Relatives should always have a named point of contact
  • Concerns should be escalated outside homes if not dealt with properly
  • Open meetings should be held with relatives
  • There should be a threshold for informing the public about significant safeguarding issues

Officials from the Care Quality Commission and West Sussex County Council (WSCC), along with other local and national representatives met the families last Friday.

WSCC leader Louise Goldsmith said: "What's been most important to me in the wake of the horrors of Orchid View was that the families of those poor people who died had a voice and were listened to.

"They have, quite rightly, been incredibly vocal about the changes that need to be made to the care industry to ensure that nobody has to go through what they, and their families, went through.

"There has been a lot of progress since the report was published but there is more that we all need to do."

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