IAIN WRIGHT: Hartlepool care home shock most not happen again

Admiral Court Care Home. Picture by FRANK REID
Admiral Court Care Home. Picture by FRANK REID

The Care Quality Commission has produced a report on a care home in Hartlepool which is extremely disturbing.

That is not a criticism of the Care Quality Commission. Far from it: they have done their duty well. The findings in the report about Admiral Court Care Home make for uncomfortable reading. I read the report a couple of days ago with a growing sense of shock and disgust.

Admiral Court was found to be inadequate in every part of its provision. The Care Quality Commission observed that there was a “disregard for people’s humanity”. People at risk of dehydration were not given sufficient fluids. Residents using adapted wheelchairs were unable to have a bath or shower. Medication was often provided late and staff on night shifts were unable to tell the inspectors how many people were in the Care Home, leaving them at risk in the event of a fire or other emergency. Residents had complained that living there felt like they were in a prison.

These sort of findings would be shocking anywhere. But this was happening in a care home in our own town. People from Hartlepool have been suffering and left with inadequate care.

I intend to call for a debate about this matter in Parliament, to ensure that lessons can be learned and that no other people living in care homes, whether in Hartlepool or anywhere else, have to suffer in this way again. I think the Care Quality Commission has done its job professionally and diligently, but there needs to be a faster response to inspections where care homes have been found wanting in such a serious manner.

On a broader point, I think there is a huge concern about future social care provision in Hartlepool and elsewhere. The town’s population is getting older and more and more people might face no choice but to move into a care home. At the same time, the local authority is facing enormous financial pressure on its budgets. It is important that everybody has reassurance that social care is afforded a high priority. However, from speaking with councillors and officers from the local authority, I appreciate the level of concern they have over squeezed budgets and cost-cutting in such an important area of activity and a difficulty in providing sufficient places in care homes for the town’s needs. This is why I will call for a parliamentary debate on this case and the wider issue of social care provision in Hartlepool.

The case of Admiral Court is extreme and shows a catastrophic and disgraceful level of failure by the people who ran it. It needs to be demonstrated that such things should never be allowed to happen again and when weaknesses are detected they are resolved quickly and thoroughly for the benefit of residents. That is why I want to have a debate in the House of Commons on this important issue.