Photography: Martin Godwin/The Guardian
A £2,400-a-week care home where staff were secretly filmed abusing 88-year-old Ann King is still breaking Care Act regulations despite a public outcry over her treatment.
Recent inspections at Reigate Grange revealed that there were still not enough trained staff, medicines were not being properly administered and the home for 74 people was “not always safe” and “not always well run”. The “luxury” home is marketed as one that offers the “highest possible standard of assisted living with the best possible care”.
Footage of King’s abuse released by the Guardian in October went viral attracting at least 8 million views. It showed that she was teased, mocked and insulted when she was confused and scared. The former nurse, who was living with her dementia, was attacked by a cleaner, who hit her with a rag used to clean a toilet, threatened to empty a bin on her and made indecent sexual gestures at her in face.
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Reigate Grange in Surrey, owned by Signature Senior Lifestyle (SSL), accused “a small number of reprehensible individuals”. He said he has “identified and implemented improvements,” adding, “We look forward to our re-inspection in the near future.”
But Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, visiting unannounced and in the middle of the night in January, again rated the home as “needs improvement,” placing it in the bottom 17 percent of adult welfare services.
SSL is one of several UK private care chains purchased in recent years by Canadian company Revera Inc. Revera is, in turn, wholly owned by the Canadian Federal Government Workers’ Pension Fund, a $230 billion investment company Canadian dollars (£150 billion).
King’s son Richard Last, who installed a secret camera on his mother’s bedside table when his family became concerned about the behavior of staff, said he felt he might “explode” when he read the latest report.
“They haven’t learned,” Last said. “They don’t give a damn and they think they can get away with it. A lot of what’s wrong now is what I used to complain about in 2021: meds, not knowing people’s problems.”
The latest inspections found that workers at the dementia care home where King was abused did not always have the right training and experience. There were complaints about agency staffing, and medicines weren’t always administered in line with instructions, and records weren’t always consistent with people’s care plans.
“Aspects of the service weren’t always secure and there were limited assurances about security,” the CQC found. “There was a greater risk that people could be harmed.”
Footage passed to the Guardian showed King being handled roughly by health workers trying to change her incontinence pad.
But shortcomings in guidance on physical intervention techniques still “left people at risk of harm” and a staff member told the CQC: “Staff need to be trained more on restraints.”
The inspection concluded: “The frequency of physical intervention was not monitored to ascertain whether it was proportionate, consistent with best interest decisions, complied with legislation, and reflected people’s planned care.”
King died last year after her family removed her from the home, which was rated ‘needs improvement’ in the areas of ‘safe’, ‘well driven’ and ‘good’ in the areas of care, responsiveness and effectiveness .
An SSL spokesperson said: “We are delighted that the CQC rates our home as good in three of the five areas inspected by the regulator and recognizes that our residents are being kept safe by colleagues who understand their safeguarding roles and responsibilities.
“We take any feedback we receive from the regulator very seriously and will continue to work with them to address any further improvements required. Our top priority is to continue to work closely with our residents and their loved ones to maintain an environment where they feel safe and happy. We are very grateful for the continued support from our residents, their families and colleagues, our aim is to ensure this home joins the rest of our communities which are all currently rated good or outstanding by the CQC.