York & North Yorkshire

Care home deaths: Sowerby House standards 'fell short'

Sowerby House
Image caption Sowerby House is now a residential home rather than a nursing home

A coroner has said standards at a care home where three elderly residents died were well below what was expected.

Albert Pooley, 89, James Metcalfe and Harry Kilvington, both 85, died of Sowerby House, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, in 2016.

Coroner Michael Oakley concluded the men died from natural causes rather than the poor care they received.

The home's owner, Larchwood Care, claimed improvements had been made.

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In returning a narrative verdict in each case, the coroner, said the home's manager "fell short of the task" and, as a consequence, so did the staff.

The death's prompted a police investigation and one by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

No criminal charges were filed but Sowerby House was rated "inadequate" following a CQC inspection in October.

'Hundreds of ants'

The inquest earlier heard how an agency nurse had left her shift early because of her concerns about standards.

She described seeing "hundreds of ants" crawling across a bedside table as a resident ate his breakfast nearby.

Image copyright Ben Lack Photography Ltd
Image caption Harry Kilvington, 85, was one of three men who died at the home in 2016
Image copyright Ben Lack Photography Ltd
Image caption A district nurse told the hearing how James Metcalfe had been left in his own excrement for several hours

Another witness, district nurse Penelope Hutchinson, said when she visited Mr Metcalfe she found him with chapped lips, sitting in his own urine and excrement, having not been checked for four-and-a-half hours.

She told the inquest she cleaned him up and confronted the manager.

"I went to see her and said 'This is totally unacceptable, this gentleman deserves basic standards of care, this is somebody's father, somebody's husband'," she said.

A spokesman for Larchwood Care said: "The national shortage of nurses led to a decision to change the registration and the home now focuses on residential care."

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