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Autism service at centre of police investigation to be shut down

Posted on 15/08/2016 by Aminul Hoque


The National Autistic Society has announced plans to close Mendip House in Somerset after a CQC inspection found “unacceptable failings”

A CQC inspection in June rated the home 'inadequate'

A care home for adults with autism that is being investigated by police will be shut down.

Mendip House in Somerset is the subject of an ongoing police investigation surrounding the welfare of its six residents, which was triggered following a CQC inspection in May this year.

The National Autistic Society, which owns the home, announced its closure on Monday.

The charity’s director, Jane Harris, said the home had “failed badly” to ensure residents were safe and the deteriorating standards at Mendip House should have been picked up sooner.

‘Adversely affected’

The CQC was alerted to issues at the home when two members of staff raised concerns about unacceptable staff behaviour. An urgent inspection was carried out and the police and Somerset council’s safeguarding team were notified of its findings.

Following a second inspection in June, the CQC has rated Mendip House ‘inadequate’ in all five of its inspection criteria – is the service safe, well-led, responsive, effective and caring.

Inspectors found a “damaging culture” had been allowed to develop within the staff team and this had “adversely affected” the lives of people living at the home. “Staff had not ensured people’s safety; this had been compromised for some time,” the report said.

The inspection also found the six residents were not receiving personalised care, their legal rights had not been upheld, and some were at risk of malnutrition due to very poor diets.

Debbie Ivanova, deputy chief inspector for adult social care at the CQC, said: “I am extremely concerned that Mendip House has failed to meet even some of the most basic needs for the people living there. These are unacceptable failings and must not be allowed to continue.”

‘No evidence of physical harm’

Harris said the depth of the problems uncovered by the CQC had prompted the “difficult decision” to close the home and the charity was working to find new homes for the residents.

“While there is no evidence of anyone coming to physical harm, the CQC’s report shows that people were put at risk by some staff neglecting their duties,” she said.

“Rather than give residents and families months of uncertainty while we try to turn the service around, we have decided it is better for everyone’s sake to close now.”

She added that the charity was taking disciplinary action against local management and staff.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “Our investigation is ongoing regarding allegations surrounding the welfare of residents at Mendip House in Highbridge.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”

Source: Community Care