Market Harborough Care Home Staff Defended

A care home owner today leapt to the defence of his staff after the building was closed down and the frail residents removed by social workers.

Speaking for the first time since the closure, Steve Clarke said he was considering an appeal against a court decision to withdraw the registration of the Acorn Lodge residential home, in Market Harborough.

Mr Clarke also criticised the way social service staff removed the 12 residents to other accommodation.

Care home inspectors acted on Friday because they felt the safety of the residents was at risk.

A recent inspection had uncovered unqualified staff on duty, falsified records, poor nutrition and dirty areas.
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Police have also arrested two women in connection with allegations of ill treatment and wilful neglect.

Mr Clarke said: “In response to issues identified by authorities, we employed an independent expert management team which has been running the home for the last three weeks.

“They have worked closely with residents and staff to put in place a successful action plan to ensure the highest standards of care now and for the future.

“Our staff and residents have been excellent and we cannot thank them enough for their support which we believe will be rewarded when the full facts are known, and properly, before the courts.”

He said he was only given three hours notice of the court hearing and could not prepare a full case.

He said: “We feel the authorities have acted disproportionately and have failed to take into account the feelings of the residents, their families and the positive action taken by us. We are now considering an appeal against the closure.”

He said: “The families were in tears and complained to social services that they had been very happy with the care provided at Acorn Lodge and did not wish their relatives to be removed.”

He said four weeks earlier, they were devastated when two staff were arrested.

He said: “If the allegations prove to be true, then this will be very disappointing to us and to our excellent staff.”

Teacher Jenny Egner, whose 78-year-old mother Sheila Hawkins was moved, has complained to County Hall.

Mrs Egner was travelling back from a school trip to Wales when she was told the news.

She said: “It was a very cold foggy night and, given that my mother hasn’t been out at night for two years, was an unnecessary stress for an old, frightened lady to endure.

“I was horrified at the handling of the situation.”

Sheila Rochester, County Hall assistant director for older and disabled persons services, said: “We would liked to have conducted the closure during daylight hours but we had to act immediately once the registration was withdrawn by the court.

“Our staff worked sympathetically with the both residents and relatives to reduce distress.”

She said the council did not have the resources available at the time to bring in expert staff to operate the home until the Saturday morning.