Darlington Hollyhurst care home workers allegedly suspended


SEVERAL carers were suspended over allegations a vulnerable woman was pinned down at a Darlington care home, The Northern Echo understands.

And the ‘serious incident’ at the Hollyhurst home was not investigated until several weeks later, after it came to light during a spot-check of the facility’s CCTV.

Last month, we revealed investigations were underway at Hollyhurst following reports a resident slept rough in Newcastle before being returned to the facility by police.

Read more: Vulnerable resident returned to care home by police

Whistleblowers have now shared allegations of an incident that sparked an investigation that led to the facility being officially downgraded last autumn.

At least one former worker is understood to have resigned in protest over claims a vulnerable resident was “unnecessarily” restrained and held down by several people for around 12 minutes.

Staff members were reportedly suspended following the physical intervention, which was investigated after it came to light during a CCTV spot-check carried out weeks later.

One witness described the restraint as an unnecessary and disproportionate response to a resident who had become “agitated but not aggressive”.

They claimed the manoeuvres used to manage the woman were ordinarily reserved for cases where there is a substantial risk of harm to others.

They said: “It was horrific for me to see and I could not get it out of my head.

“I only witnessed it but still felt guilt and shame over what had happened.

“What I saw should have only happened in an extreme case of violence, or where the safety of others is compromised.

“I don’t think any of us were in danger.”

A spokeswoman for Cygnet, which runs the home, confirmed that an “incident involving a physical intervention” was referred to the relevant authorities following the CCTV check.

Read more: Council investigates claims care home resident slept rough

The Care Quality Commission, which regulates care homes, took action last autumn in response to concerns around incident management and staffing levels.

The Northern Echo:

The entrance to Hollyhurst. PICTURE: SARAH CALDECOTT

An unannounced inspection was carried out in October and resulted in the home being downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

CQC inspectors uncovered a breach in safeguarding and said incidents were not always reviewed in a timely way.

A subsequent report said: “We found a serious incident that took place in early July 2021 was not reported to CQC until two months later.

“An investigation by the service did not take place until late August 2021.

“This meant that systems and processes were not keeping people safe.”

Read more: Care home downgraded after ‘serious incident’

It concluded that the facility needed overall improvement, particularly around leadership, safety and responsiveness.

The home’s spokeswoman confirmed the inspection had been carried out in part because of a physical intervention.

She added: “We have strict policies in place around the use of restrictive interventions which we believe should only be used as a last resort.

“In line with our policies, we took disciplinary action following this incident.”

She said the CQC and stakeholders were satisfied with the action taken and that the investigation was closed last year.

The spokeswoman said improvements had been made at the home, adding: “At the time of the inspection, we fully accepted that improvements were needed and we have worked hard to provide additional training, focus on staff recruitment and share lessons learnt and continue to promote a positive culture that is person-centred, open, inclusive and empowering.”

She added that investigations had been concluded and “appropriate action” taken in relation to the resident who slept rough earlier this year.

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