Merok Park Nursing Home closed due to 'overpowering smell of urine'

Home cares for 25 elderly patients with dementia, physical disability and sensor impairment

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The Independent Online

A Surrey nursing home has been shut down by inspectors after they found an “overpowering” smell of urine, residents being washed in cold water and elderly guests stranded upstairs.

Police officers assisted with the shutting down of Merok Park Nursing Home in Banstead on Tuesday after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ordered its immediate closure after an inspection found it was dirty and unsafe and that residents were at “significant risk of harm”.

The 29-bed home cares for 25 elderly patients with dementia, physical disability and sensor impairment and charged up to £580 per week for its care.

Adrian Hughes, chief inspector of adult social care in the south for the CQC, said enforcement action was not taken lightly because of the impact on residents. He said: "We made the providers aware of our concerns some time ago, but action has not been taken to maintain the safety and welfare of people."

On Wednesday it emerged that inspections on 28 November and 1 December had found that residents at the care home had not been receiving the help they needed to eat and drink, while other residents were placed in inappropriate beds, putting them at a high risk of pressure sores.

Mr Hughes said that smell of urine on the first day of the inspection was overpowering and inspectors discovered that staff at Merok Park working up to 60 hours a week and some had not had criminal record checks

In January the home passed an inspected by the CQC after the body raised “concerns” during a visit last September. At the time the CQC said that residents were "generally satisfied" and praised staff but said the home "did not have suitable arrangements in place for obtaining consent for people who lacked capacity". Since then it has emerged that a lift was broken, leaving some residents unable to get downstairs for weeks.

Les Shields from Epsom, whose 78-year-old father has been a resident at the home for six years, said he was deeply worried about the upheaval the closure could cause. He told the Epsom Guardian that the home was a “dump”.

Mr Shields said: "The CQC passed it off as fit for purpose in February [when its inspection report was published online]. his is meant to be a specialist care home for elderly people many of whom have dementia. From what we can see they bring in outside staff and have been cutting corners with staff."

The closure comes in the same week that the CQC said that complaints about care homes should be taken more seriously by primary care and adult social care providoers. A major report for the regulator said that too often family members with concerns were met by a “defensive culture” and called for a more “open culture where concerns are welcomed”.

Merok Park is run by Soondressen Cooppen and his wife Maleenee, according to the CQC website, which also lists them as running the Faygate House care home in Sutton, south London. The couple were unavailable for comment.

The closure of Merok Park comes a month after the CQC agreed to publish guidelines for family members who are considering resorting to spy cameras to protect their loved ones.

Several high-profile scandals have been uncovered in this way and in November Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister, welcomed surveillance plans which would help to expose “terrible cruelty and neglect.”