Probe launched into abuse claims at Devon care home

Deanna Westwood, CQC, on the 'inadequate' report

An investigation has been launched over claims of physical and emotional abuse at a care home in Devon.

Levanto Residential Care Home, in Paignton, has been rated inadequate by healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and is now in special measures.

An unannounced inspection was carried out after staff raised concerns about abuse and neglect. The CQC says the home's registered manager failed to investigate the concerns of abuse effectively.

While at the home, inspectors spoke to one family member who said their mum had bruises like "finger marks" on her wrist while another said staff would "forget" residents were humans and not "pieces of flesh".

Inspectors themselves witnessed one resident being repeatedly told to sit down before being pushed with force into a chair three times.

The CQC also raised concerns about a "culture of bullying" at the home and said the staff did not always treat people with respect.

Inspectors noted residents seemed bored and disengaged, having had little interaction with staff.

When asked if they liked living at the home, one resident told inspectors, "Not really, I'm left on my own most of the time."

The report says: "People were not given a choice of food at mealtimes and staff made decisions for them.

"We observed two people in their bedrooms for long periods of time with no drinks within reach. Staff told us people were sometimes rushed at mealtimes and told to hurry up."

It also said staff spoke unkindly about people," adding: "One staff member told us a person living with dementia was 'naughty' and referred to them as 'the nasty little one'."

Levanto Residential Care Home in Paignton. Credit: ITV West Country

At the time of the inspection in June, there were 16 people being cared for in the home.

The watchdog has since raised safeguarding concerns with Devon County Council in relation to 11 people, as well as about the service as a whole.

"We also shared our concerns with the police and other agencies," the report adds. "The local authority responded by initiating a large-scale safeguarding adults enquiry."

What the NHS, council and police have said

A spokesperson for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Torbay Council said: “As the organisations responsible for adult social care in Torbay, we have a duty to ensure the quality and safety of adult care services.

“We have a formal procedure for responding to reports of services allegedly falling below appropriate standards and can confirm that an investigation is underway.

“We have strong multi-agency arrangements in Torbay. We are extremely concerned by the findings of the CQC inspection and since they visited in June we have been actively working with the legal owners, the care staff and our partners to further assess risk and support each individual living with the home. This has included close engagement with families and the care provider throughout.

“Our experience is that the staff and managers at the home are working constructively with our specialist team who we have allocated to support improvements. In addition, a senior health and social care practitioner is now present in the home five days a week.

“We can confirm that all residents have been fully reviewed by the health and social care team to ensure their safety and, where appropriate, people have been referred to and seen by other health specialists including our community dietician, GPs and our care home visiting service. We are working actively with families to ensure they are involved in decision-making around their loved one’s care and wellbeing.

“We are unable to comment on this case any further at this stage.”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson told ITV News West Country: "Police are in the early stages of a multi-agency safeguarding review relating to a care home in Torbay.

"Enquiries are continuing."