Breaking The Chain of Elderly Abuse Complacency - Ignorance - Denial - Silence | Reg. Charity No:1102282
Who Was Richard Turner Part One?
Richard Turner worked for the regulator of care homes and investigated the Isard House abuse case. He is the only UK regulator to have given evidence in a whistleblowing case in an Employment Tribunal, Below is a copy of his signed witness statement.
“Statement of Richard Turner of the Registration unit Bromley Social Services, (PIDA Prescribed Regulator)
Will say as follows,
- I am the principle registration and inspection manager employed by the London Borough of Bromley and have been employed in that post for the past 9 years. The Registration and Inspection Unit, whilst being part of the Directorate of Social Services and Housing is an, arms length, service undertaking the inspection and registration of residential care homes as well as carrying out similar responsibilities under the Children Act in relation to day care provision and children’s homes.
2. Inspectors have to ensure that they are both independent and objective in their task which means that irrespective of whether it is a council, private or voluntary provided service. The same inspection standards apply. The inspection unit must show that it is, at arms length,from the councils own direct service provision and not, influenced by the objectives of other divisions of the department.
3. In the course of my duties as Principle Registration and Inspection Manager I also oversee the investigation of complaints and allegations made in respect of registered care homes and the provision of care in those homes
4. in the Borough we have 69 large homes in total providing residential care for both older people and adults with a learning disability,
All these homes are registered by the Registration and Inspection Unit for Bromley Council Community Care Division.
Six homes are contracted by the London Borough of Bromley Community care Division to Care First Partnerships Limited and care first Partnerships Ltd (BUPA) The premises of five of the homes are still owned by the London Borough of Bromley and one is now owned by Care First Care home Ltd ( BUPA), but is providing care to Bromley residents under contract to London Borough of Bromley; making a total of six homes which provide care under contract to London Borough of Bromley.
all the care homes in Bromley in this sector are managed and owned by independent service providers and as such the unit deals with all the homes on an equal basis, making no distinction in terms of its regulatory responsibility towards those that have contracted out by the council.
5.Under the regulatory system two statutory inspections are carried out each year; one announced and one unannounced for each home. The Registration and Inspection unit do follow up visits as a result of these inspections where necessary. Where there are concerns about a particular establishment we will undertake as many visits as required.
6. There are on average 30 or so complaints a year regarding service provision in adult care homes. these vary from specific small scale complaints to larger matters. Normally these complaints just relate to one individual and they are usually raised by relatives, visitors, staff or ex-staff.
7. In addition to Registration and Inspection visits the Council has a rota of visits by Councillors to contracted out homes. Sometimes The Registration and Inspection Unit receives information on issue from Councillors if they are concerned about the standard of the premises or care offered.
8. The London Borough of Bromley has contracted out its responsibility to provide care in residential homes since 1995. the contract is now within Care First Care Homes Ltd (BUPA) after a series of company restructurings.
9. The Registration and Inspection Unit can recommend that a home is de-registered if they;
if they employ people who are not fit persons to be employed to care for the elderly or staff are not provided in sufficient numbers.
If the premises are not adequate to provide suitable accommodation to those being carried out.
The way they carry on the business would indicate an inability to provide a secure and sustainable service with integrity E.g someone who was backing an organisation was an undischarged bankrupt or in prison for fraud for example or dishonest and did not maintan records.
10. In this role I was approached By Eileen Chubb and Karen Hook in April 1999.
11. On 19th April 1999 Eileen Chubb and Karen Hook came to see Monica Hanscomb, Registration and Inspection Manager for adults at the Civic Centre, the operational location for the inspection unit. I was invited to join the discussion and was made aware that there were concerns of quite an extensive nature with regard to the care of residents at Isard House, particularly Unit three which provides care for elderberry mentally infirm residents suffering from chronic dementia.
12. Eileen Chubb and Karen Hook gave us handwritten statements of members of staff alleging a range of abusive and inappropriate behaviour, towards residents by certain members of staff.
13. The first meeting went on for at least an hour and a half. Mrs Chubb and Ms Hook stated that the 7 staff were upset and concerned about the residents whom they had been looking after. They told me were coming to us because they had reported their concerns to management at Isard House and nothing had been done. I asked for time to read their statements. At this point they went and had some tea, subsequently returning to meet with me and Monica Handscomb once I had finished reading their statements.
14. They repeated that there were difficulties relating to management at Isard House. They had spoken to their line manager but their concerns had not been dealt with and that was why they were coming to us.
15 I said said I was very concerned about the nature of the allegations, and the seriousness as it involved a large number of people, residents and staff and the line management of Isard House. I stated we would have to involve the police , given the nature of the allegations, I said I would arrange a meeting as soon as possible with the police and our staff and conduct an investigation in conjunction with them to examine the allegations more fully.
The Whistleblowers seemed content with this and it appeared that they thought we were taking matters seriously. I told them I would be in touch when I had arranged a strategy meeting for the following day.
16. On the 20th April 1999 there was an inter-agency meeting with Bromley Community support at 11am. This involved two police officers and Bromley Social Services. This meeting examined the allegations brought to the attention of the Registration and inspection Unit by the 7 applicants. WDC Judith Taylor and Detective Sergeant Peggington were the police officers involved.
17. At the strategy meeting, it was agreed that we would seek suspension of Maria Keenahan immediate the main person implicated in the allegations.
18. The police officers also agreed that they would interview witnesses and would look into the allegations of possible theft from residents, and physical abuse and would in parallel with Social Services staff ( Unreadable 3 words) the facts of the matter.
19. It was further agreed that all the staff at Isard house and any other relevant party’s, including the residents if they were capable of being interviewed and possibly some of the relatives would be interviewed it was acknowledged however that most of the residents were EMI Elderly Mentally Infirm and the likelihood of attaining useful evidence from them was fairly remote. All the relevant party’s were notified . The Director of Social services and Housing , Care First partnerships Ltd (BUPA) The contracts division . Proposed placements of residence to the home were suspended pending an assessment. Once the assessment had been completed and the unit satisfied that the safety and wellbeing of the residents would be assured. I would advise The Social Services and Housing Community Care Division of the outcome.
20. On 21st April we set up an inquiry team consisting of Joan Ford RI officer, Mike Tucker RI officer, Monica Hanscomb RI manager and myself. The team attended at Isa#rd House to begin the inquiry.
21 The manager; Carole Jones provided us with accomidation on the first floor where we undertook interviews.
22. Two officers were present at each interview, one male, one female and often two interviews were running concurrently. We started the interview process on 21st of April and continued over a number of weeks including weekends and visiting in the evenings to see night staff. some members of staff would have been interviewed perhaps on two or three occasions depending upon their involvement. We interviwed anyone who was closely involved. We had a set of question for each member of staff which was common to all.
23 We asked each person questions about their current role, previous experience, training and if they had seen anything at Isard house which made them feel uncomfortable. Did they have any concerns about the ways in which residents were treated.
24. At the outset of the interviews we asked people if they felt happy to talk to us which the majority agreed. If they were unhappy with these arrangements, we asked if they would like someone with them.
25. On 25th of May, Eileen Chubb telephoned us for assistance because she was being “chased” around Isard House by Carol Newton, Care First partnerships Area Operations Manager and Eileen Chubb had locked herself in a bedroom of one of the residents to get away from her.
26. As this breakdown in the relationship between the members of staff and their mangers was affecting the running of the home, Monica Hanscomb and I attended Isard House immediately. Eileen Chubb contacted us in order to keep the peace and avoid too much disruption. An interview then took place between Eileen Chubb and Carole Newton in the conference room at Isard House on the first floor with both myself and Monica Hanscomb present.
27. This meeting was for Carol Newton to establish what the problems, had been and it appeared she saw Eileen Chubb as the ” Ring Leader” Eileen Chubb was too distraught to go on working. I felt we were mediating in an internal employer- employee situation which could not be resolved easily, and not the units role. Carol Newton asked why Eileen Chubb had gone to the Registration and Inspection Unit when there was a BUPA helpline for care workers. Monica Hanscomb pointed out there was no helpline at the time and when they had brought concerns to management nothing had happened.
28. Eileen Chubb indicated to Monica Hanscomb that she could not go on working under the circumstances and Monica Hanscomb told Carole Newton she agreed with this.
29. Mr Kelly was Care First Partnerships Limited Operations Director, Carol Newton was the area Operations Manager Mr Kelly was therefore Carol Newtons Line Manager. I suggested to him that he should attend a meeting with the whistleblowers as a way of reducing their tension and distress. I told him that I believed the staff group had come to us in good faith, I was concerned if this disruption was going to continue at Isard House, it would affect the residents.
30. I arranged an impartial venue and discussed this with Eileen Chubb and Karen Hook. I said they would be able to present their own case. I said I would just be there to listen and facilitate the discussion.
I arranged the meeting for the 14th of May at one of the councils special sheltered housing units. The meeting was attended by all 7 whistleblowers. Mr Kelly and myself and Monica Hanscomb joined us later. It was a constructive meeting in the sense that the whistleblowers were reasonably calm and very professional. They presented their concerns on a flipchart which clearly identified the circumstances of their allegations and some of the residents most affected and the staff hierarchy which they suggested had inhibited the present resolution of their concerns in Isard house.
31. Mr Kelly (Des Kelly OBE) listened to what the staff group had said and thanked them and talked about training and development and this could be improved at Isard House,. However he said that BUPA could not do anything until the Registration and Inspection Unit had completed its investigation.
He emphasised with the staff group and told them about his own care background in residential care homes and that he understood their concerns. CFP or BUPA were keen to ensure that care would improve and improved training was the key to this. It was an informative meeting on both side and I felt was the beginning of a dialogue would continue between the respective parties.
( Des Kelly later said he no recollection of us telling anything at all)
32. Mr Kelly presented his own credentials and told the staff group about books he had written i.e. his academic background. He did not identify any clear objective to resolving the issue at Isard House but he said he would take some action. He did say he would rely on the outcome of the registration and inspection units enquiry and that he would make sure that was everything was OK in the sense of the residents care.
33. In summery Mr Kelly explained his professional background his knowledge of residential care settings and tried to give some reassurance. I felt that Mr Kelly had listened to what the staff had said and that he would take some action. He did say he would take responsibility for the situation. the whistleblowers were really upset about the lack of care to residents of whom they were particularly fond.
They were frustrated upset and angry that they had not been able to achieve any change for the residents in terms of the care they had been receiving. All the people who attended had an opportunity to say something. the meeting went on for approximately two hours.
34. I got the sense there was a management vacuum at Isard house. 5 residents in particular seemed to have suffered particularly and there was a real problem of understaffing on unit two. The whistleblowers were adamant that there had been physical assaults and verbal abuse towards residents in the year preceding April 1999 principally on Unit 3 Isard House.
(The whistleblowers had gone to management with their concerns and had trusted something would be done, they did not know about each other until the week before they went to the regulator)
35. The staff group were also concerned about communications with the GP which had apparently been blocked by Maria Green, the deputy manager, at Isard House. They claimed that this had prevented early treatment of a variety of residents health conditions and concerns.
36. Lee Elkin, one of the staff that made allegations claimed that he had been harassed to return to work by repeated telephone calls with the manager of the home, Carole Jones.
37. There was underlying distress at the meeting. Linda Clark in particular became very emotional. All the staff attending the meeting at Durham House were tearful at times except Margarette Roffy.
38. On 24th May I arranged for the whistleblowers to have counselling through a voluntary agency Council and Care for the elderly. I was quite conscious that my lines of responsibility were becoming blurred. I felt sorry for the whistleblowers, who had come to us in good faith wanting to help them but I also wanted to avoid their concerns being treated as gossip. There was a need to ensure their own emotional needs were receiving help from an external source and that their health was protected.
39. The inquiry team had prepared an interim report in May and held a meeting on 13th May at the Civic centre with Mr Kelly and Carol Newton present from Care First Partnerships ( BUPA) and we discussed the interim findings in full. Mr Kelly met with the staff group at Durham house the next day.
40 Carole Jones, the manager at Isard House, then went off sick and subsequently left in July 1999, Maria Green, the deputy manager at Isard House, then moved to another home in the area pending the outcome of our inquiry.
41, Throughout the summer of 1999 I was in frequent contact with Eileen Chubb and the staff would drop in to the Civic centre from time to time. They wanted to know what was happening and also expressed their concerns that they were not receiving payments from BUPA in a regular and consistent manner (statutory sick pay) There was apparent shortfalls in money sent to them, but they were all to the best of my knowledge, off sick with stress during this period. I wrote a letter on one occasion on behalf of Lee Elkin, to his housing landlord to say he had been helping with our enquiries and therefore his drop in income was due to the fact that he was doing this. Although he was unable to fully pay his rent, I made a plea on his behalf for leniency with regard to possession.
( By This Point the whistleblowers were selling their belongings at boot fairs to raise money for food)
42 Meanwhile we continued to monitor I sard House constantly. We would visit weekly or fortnightly unannounced and announced to ensure staffing levels were right.
43. Agency staff were employed but it was understood that this was the only option open to the company. Although these arrangements were not ideal as it did not give consistant care in the long-term to residents. The whistleblowers all felt guilty about what was happening to their residents.
It was clear that the relatives of the residents thought highly of the members of staff, especially those from unit 2 ie the whistleblowers.
I felt optimistic in general terms that the staff group would be able to maintain links with their employer after our meeting of 14th May, and I imagined they would all return back to work in due course. I continued to remain in touch weith the staff group throughout the summer.
44. On May 27th I again met the staff group together at the civic centre they handed in further written statements to me.
On 4th June, Renee Warwick came in to discuss her financial situation including payment of arrears of earnings. On 16th June Maggie Roffy came to see me at the Civic Centre with a further written statement setting out her additional concerns about the attitude of management. towards her.
45 I met again with the staff group on 29th July when they came to the civic centre again and reported to me that they had not received their statutory sick pay. I then wrote to Des Kelly on their behalf.
46. On 27th August, I received information via one of the manager of another residential care home in the Care First Partnerships group( Bupa) who reported to Monica Hanscomb that Maria Keenahan was to be re employed at Anne Sutherland House another home in the group in a similar capacity to that she had had at Isard House. It was on or around that date that I also received a call from Eileen Chubb to say that Maria Keenahan was to be re-employed at Anne Sutherland house as a team leader their on a unit for the elderly mentally infirm. At that time, Maria Keenahan was under arrest and on police bail whilst they were making further enquiries regarding theft from residents.
47. We managed to ascertain that Maria Keenahan was due to start work first thing on Tuesday 31st of August after the Bank holiday Monday, on the evening of Friday “7th, and over Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th I contacted Mr Kelly at his home and said that the re-deployment of Maria Keenahan at Anne Sutherland house was unacceptable to us, especially as she was firstly on bail with regard to allegations of theft and secondly, that in our view she was implicated in both abuse and neglectful behaviours either by herself and members of her team that she was managing on Unit 3 at Isard House. he ultimately agreed to prevent her from commencing employment at Anne Sutherland House on the morning of 31st August, which I understood that he did because I phoned Anne Sutherland House to confirm that this had happened.
48. On the 1st December 1999, Eileen Chubb and Karen Hook came to the Civic centre and spoke with Monica Hanscome and Carl Sewell, the Chief Executives monitoring officer and informed them that Maria Keenahan had been at Faircroft, a home in the managership of care first Ltd ( BUPA) and not under direct contract to the London Borough of Bromley.
49. Faircroft is owned by Care First home Ltd ( BUPA) which did not have the same directors Care First Partnership Ltd and operated separately as a limited company with the BUPA care services group. Faircroft is a privately registered care home, registered in Bromley specifically for elderly mentally infirm residents.
50 I rang and asked to speak to the manager of Faircroft, Mrs Lydia Edmunds and asked if she had Maria Keenahan working in the home, she said no. I then asked her if she had anyone called maria which she denied. I was not satisfied with her reply so I visited the home that evening with Monica Hanscomb at around 9pm to coincide with passable change over of staff for night shift.
51. We looked at the records at Faircroft from which it appeared that the rotas had been altered and the name Maria had been Tip-exed out on at least one of those I had seen. This Rota was hanging up in the office upstairs. Further Rotas were held in the managers office in the basement which we did not have access to that evening.
We returned at 8.30 am the following morning and waited for the manager to arrive at 9,15am. We interviewed Mrs Edmunds at that time and she finally agreed that Maria Keenahan had worked their since September.
52 Mrs Edmunds said that she knew Maria Keenahan was on bail for theft. She was however, at that stage unaware of the allegations of verbal and physical abuse which had been made against her. Maria Keenahan herself had told her about these some weeks later. The Manager was under the impression that Maria Keenahan had been discriminated against for race reasons. She felt sympathetic towards Maria Keenahan.
53. Carole Newton had brought Maria Keenahan to Faircroft at a time when the manager was not on duty. We subsequently ascertained this had occurred on 31st of August immediately after she had been prevented from working at Anne Sutherland House. Mrs Edmunds had not raised the issue of Maria Keenahan with anyone else. her view was that there was not a shred of evidence to back up the allegations which had been made against Maria Keenahan.
54. I wrote to Mr Ludford, The operations Director of care first Care homes Ltd ( BUPA). He did not reply. I drew attention to the fact that Maria Keenahan appeared to have been redeployed at Faircroft. The matter was subject to lengthy correspondence between myself and the company. I also said Maria Keenahan was on police bail and this information was included in detail in my letter to Mr Ludford on21st December 1999, but now I understand that June this, Maria Keenahan was re-suspended once again and that she was no longer working at Faircroft at the present time. There are Elderly Mentally Infirm residents at Faircroft for whom she was responsible.
55. My letters were passed on to Mr Kelly for a reply without any acknowledgment from MR Ludford of Care First Care Home Ltd ( BUPA)
56. I received reply’s from Mr Kelly to my letters who stated that Maria Keenahan had been re-deployed at Faircroft because he had insufficient evidence to continue her suspension due to the fact that the written allegations made by the whistleblowers had not been available to be released to him and therefore he felt that the balance of evidence against Maria Keenahan was insufficient to keep her from being employed. I made abundantly clear in correspondence that I did not agree with this view. She had been bail at the time of re-deployment for theft and that with the other allegation of such a serious nature that we had received we demanded that her suspension continue.
57. I undertook company search’s and found that Mr Kelly was not a directer of Care first Care home Ltd between 1st December and the beginning of February. he is however, on the BUPA management board. He subsequently became a director of care first care homes Ltd ( BUPA) on the 2nd February.
58. I was always clear in my correspondence to both Care First Care Home Ltd and Care First Partnerships Ltd ( Both BUPA) that Maria Keenahan was on police bail and it was inappropriate to employ and it was not appropriate for to work EMI residents.
59. The manager, Mrs Edmunds had breached regulations under the registered care homes act. There was also an issue of tampering with records which reflected on her fitness and also the fitness of the Area Operations Manager, Mrs Newton. It was purely by chance that we discovered that Maria Keenahan was working at Faircroft. placing Maria Keenahan at Faircroft was in breach of Statutory regulations.
60. care first Partnerships Ltd received the first draft of the completed inquiry report on 3rd August 1999 and the final version after correspondence between by 5th November 1999. We considered that we had made our position abundantly clear with all those members of staff who were implicated. It was made clear at the time when attempts were made for Maria Keenahan to be employed at Anne Sutherland House, that this was not appropriate and Mr Kelly finally agreed that this was the case. I have a full record of the communication that took place between myself over the weekend of the 28th August and Mr Kelly over the possible re-deployment of Mrs Keenahan at Anne Sutherland House.
Signed by Richard Turner Dated 30th June 2000
Footnote Des Kelly OBE sat through every day of the nearly 8 weeks of evidence given at the Ashford Employment Tribunal hearings, which included hundreds of medication sheets proving illegal overdosing, falsifying records and serious physical assaults on vulnerable people had occurred, Mr Kelly went on to deploy Maria Keenahan in three further care homes. Richard Turner removed her on each occasion.