Verdicts due on care home deaths

Orchid View care home in Copthorne, West Sussex Photo: ITV News Meridian

Verdicts are due to be recorded today at an inquest into the deaths of 19 elderly residents who died after being placed in a care home which has faced scrutiny over its standards of care.

A five-week inquest has looked at the regime, staffing levels and treatment of pensioners at the Orchid View care home in Copthorne, West Sussex, before it closed down two years ago.

The hearing has been told that some residents were given wrong doses of medication, left soiled and unattended due to shortages of staff and of a lack of management.

Call bells were often not answered for long periods or could not be reached by elderly people living at the now-defunct care home, which has reopened under a new name and management.

Relatives of some of the 19 residents also spoke of family members not being tended to properly, of a lack of physical and mental stimulation and not being shown care plans they had asked to see.

One resident, Jean Halfpenny, who died aged 77, had been administered three times her regular dose of the blood-thinning drug Warfarin at the home.

Orchid View, which was run by Southern Cross, closed down in late 2011 after an investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found it had failed to meet eight of their essential standards of quality and safety.

In the same year, Sussex Police launched an investigation into alleged neglect at the home, in conjunction with the NHS, West Sussex County Council, the CQC and the West Sussex coroner.

Five people were arrested, including two on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence in relation to Mrs Halfpenny's death, but insufficient evidence existed to support a prosecution and the case was passed to the coroner.

Other pensioners who died were Wilfred Gardner, 85, Percy Bates, 95, Graham Miller, 88, Ellen Bates, 88, Maisie Martin, 89, Maureen Donaghey, 87, Margaret Tucker, 77, John Holmes, 85, Enid Trodden, 86, Bertram Jerome, 93, Doris Fielding, 90, and Jean Leatherbarrow, 88.

The cases of six other residents will be dealt with by way of paperwork today.