Surrey

Merok Park care home closed after inspectors deem it 'dirty and unsafe'

An elderly woman
Image caption Residents are being moved to other services

A care home in Surrey has been shut down after inspectors found residents were "at significant risk of harm".

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it ordered the immediate closure of Merok Park Nursing Home after an inspection found it was dirty and unsafe, with an "overpowering" smell of urine.

The home's 26 residents were moved following the closure on Tuesday.

No-one at the home, in Banstead, was available for comment.

Adrian Hughes, chief inspector of adult social care in the south, said enforcement action was not taken lightly because of the impact on residents.

He said: "We made the providers... aware of our concerns some time ago, but action has not been taken to maintain the safety and welfare of people."

'Stench of urine'

Inspections on 28 November and 1 December found residents not receiving help to eat and being placed in inappropriate beds, putting them at a high risk of pressure sores, he said.

Mr Hughes told BBC Surrey: "Things weren't getting better. Between those inspections, we were expecting the provider to address the concerns that we had raised, but that wasn't happening.

"That was the reason... we had to take action to make sure people are not exposed to further risk.

"The stench of urine was so strong it made the eyes of our staff water."

Staff were working up to 60 hours a week and some had not had criminal record checks, the CQC said.

It said inspectors also found a broken lift had left some residents unable to get downstairs for weeks.

Mr Hughes said there were issues with staffing levels which had an impact on residents' nutrition and hydration.

"There were problems with the hot water system, and so people were being bathed in cold water. That exposes people to risk because it it not hygienic," he said.

"We will be working with Surrey County Council and with police. The police will be looking to see if there is any criminality in terms of neglect."

A Surrey Police spokeswoman said: "There is currently no police investigation into the care home."

'On our radar'

According to the CQC website, Soondressen Cooppen and his wife Maleenee run Merok Park and Faygate House care home in Sutton, south London.

Mr Hughes said inspectors had also visited the Sutton care home.

He said: "That is a service which we are looking at to see what action we should be taking.

"If a provider is not providing a good quality service at one of his or her services, we've got to ask the question 'are they doing the same at their other services?' It's very much on our radar."

According to the CQC, Merok Park can accommodate up to 29 people and most of its residents, some of whom have dementia, are elderly.

The home passed an inspection in January carried out after the regulator raised "concerns" during a visit in September last year.

'No longer safe'

That inspection found residents were "generally satisfied" and praised staff.

But it said the home "did not have suitable arrangements in place for obtaining consent for people who lacked capacity" and "had not always taken steps to provide care in a home that was adequately maintained in all areas".

Inspectors have removed Merok Park's registration, which means it can no longer legally operate.

"Taking any decision which causes people to leave their homes is always difficult at any time of year - but it is our view, shared by other agencies, that it was no longer safe for people to remain in Merok Park," Mr Hughes said.

"We wanted to make sure people were not exposed to any further risk, hence the action which we took."

Surrey County Council said all the residents had been moved to other care homes.

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