Police investigation begun into Kettering care home closed after major Covid-19 outbreak

Familes say they want to know exactly what happened at Temple Court where 15 residents died from Covid-19

By Sarah Ward
Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 8:52 pm
15 residents have died at the home due to Covid-19 or suspected Covid-19.
15 residents have died at the home due to Covid-19 or suspected Covid-19.

A police investigation has been launched into a care home which was ordered to close after a major Covid-19 outbreak.

Police are speaking with relatives of the 15 residents of Temple Court in Kettering who died from Covid-19 or suspected Covid-19 as part of an investigation into the operational workings of the home.

The investigation is expected to last many months and its remit is to find out whether any criminal offences took place over recent months.

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The home, which is run by Amicura, part of the Minster care group, had to move all of its surviving residents to other homes in the week of May 11 after being told to do so by the local authority’s adult social care department and the health authorities. The CQC carried out an inspection that same week, with its findings due to be out soon. The local authority is also carrying out an investigation under section 42 of the Care Act which happens when there are allegations of abuse or neglect.

In a statement issued today Northamptonshire Police said: “Northamptonshire Police is aware of the recent issues relating to Temple Court Care Home in Kettering.

“We are working with the Safeguarding Adults Team at Northamptonshire County Council to investigate these further.”

Temple Court has publicly stated it was Covid free before March 19 when 15 patients were sent in (it claims) untested into the care home after being discharged from the county’s two hospitals. In total 350 patients were moved out of hospitals and 235 were placed in residential care to free up beds for the expected surge of Covid-19 patients from the local community.

The county authority will not currently confirm whether the residents who were moved out of hospitals into care homes were tested.

However there are fears the mass discharge could have seeded the virus into the setting. Nationally care homes have been severely affected by coronavirus, with latest figures reporting that more than 11,000 care home deaths have been due to coronavirus.

Familes who have lost their loved ones at Temple Court have said they want answers and the police investigation could now be the start of the authorities beginning to work out what happened at the home. It is understood the local authority became aware of issues on May 1 and had provided extra nursing and support to the home before deciding it could no longer look after residents.

A family member who did not want to be named for fear of compromising the police investigation said they are angry and broken about the death of their relative, who had only gone to Temple Court for respite at the start of March.

She said the week after lockdown, when families were barred from going in, she had spoken to her father-in law on the phone.

She said: “His words were; ‘What about me?’ He thought he had been abandoned.

“I said, ‘I want to get him out of there’. I called social services and they said ‘I really wouldn’t suggest him coming out at a time like this.”

She added: “Nobody will ever be able to comprehend not being able to see a loved one for three to four weeks before they died and not to be there at the end.

“Three times in the last week of his life we asked for a phone call with him, but the home did not call.”

The first Simon Bennett, whose father Robert is one of the Temple Court survivors, knew of the police investigation was earlier this week when his mother received a letter from the county council, which runs adult social care services. The letter said its own investigation under the care act had been put on hold while the police investigation took place.

He said: “We want to know – what did go on within the care home?”

A spokesperson for Temple Court said: “The police are statutory members of adult safeguarding boards and it is routine practice to get in contact in cases such as this. We have been given no indication so far what they are investigating, but we will cooperate fully with their enquiries.

“Our priority has always been the wellbeing of our residents and giving them the best care possible. The home was left in an extremely challenging position after a sudden influx of residents from the NHS – some of whom had very complex needs – and a subsequent outbreak of Covid-19.

“A large number of staff, including the home manager and senior team, were absent due to the virus and we were left disproportionately reliant on the use of agency staff. After becoming overwhelmed, we worked closely with NENE CCG, the local authority and Care Quality Commission (CQC) to move them to settings that were not as compromised.”

The home is currently rated as required improvement by the CQC. An inspection carried out in May 2019 found a number of issues including a lack of risk assessments, incomplete records and managament not always being aware of accidents that had happened.

A spokesperson for NHS Northamptonshire CCG and Northamptonshire County Council said: “As in all cases where concerns are raised about quality of care provision, our first priority is the wellbeing of residents.

“All residents of Temple Court residential and nursing care home have now been moved to new placements elsewhere to ensure that no one is at risk, and in line with our standard practice a multi-agency investigation has begun into the issues raised.

“With initial enquiries under way, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

So far data from the Office of National statistics reports up until last Friday (May 31) 119 Northants care home residents have died with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

There have been outbreaks at 79 of the 250 care homes in the county.