Hartlepool care homes close as operator stripped of licence: Elderly residents forced to move out

Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court
Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court

Dozens of elderly residents at two care homes are being forced to move out after a watchdog ruled its operator is unfit to provide care.

Four Winds, in Park Drive, Hartlepool, and Parkview Residential Home, at Seaton Carew, both run by Matt Matharu, must close by January 15.

Highnam House. Picture by FRANK REID

Highnam House. Picture by FRANK REID

It is after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) cancelled his registration for a series of failings at three homes rated inadequate that he is the sole operator of.

The third is Highnam Hall, in Park Avenue, where 30 residents were moved when it was placed in special measures in October.

Hartlepool Borough Council is now working to find alternative accommodation for the residents affected.

Mr Matharu was jailed for eight months in February this year after being found guilty of health and safety breaches after 90-year-old Norah Elliott climbed out of an insecure upstairs window and fell to her death from a conservatory roof at Parkview Residential Home.

Mr Matharu has let residents and their families down and this cannot go on

Debbie Westhead, Care Quality Commission

Debbie Westhead, of the CQC, said: “Clearly, Mr Matharu has let residents and their families down and this cannot go on.”

The action will put more pressure on availability in Hartlepool which is already under pressure after a series of home closures and blocks on new admissions.

The CQC issued a notice of its intention to cancel Mr Matharu’s registration for the three homes earlier this year due to long-standing concerns about his fitness as a provider and about the quality and safety of people’s care.

He appealed but on December 21 the Care Standards Tribunal struck out his appeal.

The decision means that by January 15 he will no longer be allowed to provide care services and all three homes must close.

During unannounced inspections in January and February, CQC inspectors found the homes were failing to provide care which was safe, effective, responsive or well led.

All three homes were rated inadequate.

The watchdog says it has been working with the council to keep residents and families informed and minimise disruption.

Debbie Westhead, CQC deputy chief inspector of adult social care said: “Together with our partners, we have been forced to take action against Matt Matharu following serious and continuing concerns about the safety and welfare of people living at his three care homes.

“At the start of the year, our inspectors identified concerns regarding the safety of the premises, poor medicines management and a failure to provide care that fully met people’s needs. Subsequent inspections showed that standards of care were deteriorating, despite assurances that improvements would be made.

“This is not a decision anyone takes lightly and we understand that all efforts are being made to minimise any disruption – however, when concerns are so serious, action must be taken to protect people from harm.”

A council spokesman said: “As ever the council’s priority is to ensure that the residents affected are safe and receiving care that meets their needs.

“The council will work with residents and their families between now and January 15 to support moves to suitable alternative accommodation.”

The council is to look at ways of bringing care for the elderly back under their control due to concerns over some private providers.