Somerset

Charity avoids prosecution over 'cruel' care home staff

Mendip House
Image caption Mendip House is within the grounds of Somerset Court and housed six people with autism and complex needs

A charity which ran a care home where autistic residents were subjected to "cruel behaviour", bullying and humiliation has avoided prosecution.

Mendip House in Somerset closed in 2016 after whistleblowers contacted the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A report found staff made a man crawl on all fours, threw cake at another and used residents' money to buy meals.

The National Autistic Society (NAS), which ran the home, has now agreed to pay a £4,000 fixed penalty notice.

The CQC said the NAS had paid the fines "as an alternative to prosecution".

The Safeguarding Adults Review, commissioned by Somerset's Safeguarding Adults Board last year, found the home was dominated by a "gang of controlling male staff".

Allegations made against staff included not being "bothered to take people out because of being on the Playstation" and being "unaware" a female resident had absconded.

The review also noted that parallels had been drawn with the Winterbourne View abuse revealed by BBC Panorama.

Five people were eventually dismissed - including the manager and deputy - but no prosecutions were brought. The six residents were moved to different facilities when the home closed.

Image caption Parallels had been drawn with the Winterbourne View abuse revealed by BBC Panorama

Now the CQC has served the NAS with a fixed penalty notice "for failing to meet fundamental standards" at the home.

A CQC spokesperson, said: "Fines totalling £4,000 have been paid as an alternative to prosecution."

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said it had been issued with the penalty notice for failing to "prevent financial abuse of service users".

"Among the mistreatment uncovered at that time, it was identified that some members of staff had made the people they supported pay for staff meals while on trips out," he said.

"This was wrong and should not have been allowed to happen. We have accepted and paid this penalty notice."

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