Durham Care Home Death Triggers Inquiry

POLICE have launched an investigation into a privatelyrun North-East care home after an elderly resident died from blood poisoning.

Durham Police confirmed it was investigating the care received by 75-year-old James Cooksey before he died.

Mr Cooksey was a resident of Victoria House, in Barton Street, Darlington.

The Northern Echo understands the investigation is being led by the force’s major crime team.

Last night, it emerged that the home is to be closed at the request of the Winnie Care Group, the company which operates it.

Officials issued a 90-day notice of closure to Darlington Borough Council last Friday.

The closure leaves the authority with the potential headache of finding suitable alternative homes for 19 residents before Christmas. Council officials said there was no panic and that they hope to have all residents in alternative accommodation well ahead of a 90-day deadline.

Mr Cooksey, who is understood to have relatives in North Yorkshire, died in Darlington Memorial Hospital on August 22 this year.

A post-mortem examination confirmed he died of septicaemia, a bacterial infection of the blood.

Although news of the investigation was only confirmed by police yesterday, the inquiry began on the day Mr Cooksey died.

Victoria House will officially close in mid-December, but it is hoped placements will be found for the residents living there by the beginning of November.

The home has 45 rooms and offered 24-hour nursing care for the elderly and adults with learning disabilities.

Meetings have taken place between Darlington Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council, as well as various health and nursing organisations to discuss the police inquiry.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: “Police are leading an investigation into the care received by a 75-year-old man at a privately-run home in Darlington shortly before his death last month.

“A post-mortem examination revealed the death was as a result of septicaemia.”

A council spokesman said: “Winnie Care, which owns Victoria House, has decided to close the home.

“Darlington Council has been given the contractual 90- day notice period.

“We are working with staff at Victoria House to ensure high-quality alternative placements are found for the 19 residents who live there.”

The Northern Echo contacted Victoria House, but bosses declined to comment.

The Winnie Care Group also declined to comment.

The family-run business was established in the late Eighties and has grown substantially in recent years.

It now offers more than 780 registered beds in 18 residential and nursing care homes around the country.