Thornlea Nursing Home: Loanhead nursing home where half the residents died has registration suspended

A care home where more than half of the residents have died of Covid-19 is to have its registration suspended following a damning watchdog inspection.

Court case: Thornlea Nursing Home, Loanhead
Court case: Thornlea Nursing Home, Loanhead

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that 15 residents of Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead have died after contracting coronavirus. The 14 surviving residents – including some with dementia – are now to be moved to alternative facilities.

David Logan, counsel for Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland, said it was "a very serious situation" as he gave an up to date figure on the deaths.

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He told Sheriff Douglas Keir that he was seeking an order for interim suspension of the registration which would not come into force until January 18 next year.

Mr Logan said: "The reason that January 18 is appropriate is that at the present time there are still 14 residents in the home."

"Those residents are in the process of being moved by Midlothian health partnership but that is quite a complicated business," he said.

He said it was complicated because of Covid-19 and because some were suffering from dementia.

Mr Logan told the court: "This is a very serious situation. I am not here to attribute blame."

He said it was appreciated that the home had faced a lot of difficulties.

Mr Logan said that postponing the suspension would allow Thornlea to continue to provide a home for the remaining residents until they were moved elsewhere.

William Frain-Bell, counsel for Thornlea Nursing Home Ltd, said it agreed with what was being proposed.

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He said it was working with the care organisation and health partnership and hoped there would be an opportunity in the near future to address the court and to seek to have the interim order recalled.

Mr Frain-Bell said the nursing home gave an undertaking not to take in any new residents between now and January 18.

The sheriff granted an order suspending the home's registration from January 18.

The legal action was raised after after "significant concerns" were identified during an inspection which raised "serious" worries surrounding residents' safety. Thornlea has capacity for a maximum of 33 adults paying up to £1,000 per week.

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Officials at the privately-run home have refused to provide any comment on the legal move by the Care Inspectorate.

The last inspection report made public was for one carried out on November 9, 2017 where the home received a "weak" marking for "care and support" provision.

When details of the report emerged, a Care Inspectorate spokesman said: “An inspection has identified serious and significant concerns about the quality of care experienced by residents at Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead, Midlothian.

“We understand this is a difficult and distressing time for residents, their loved ones and staff at the home.

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“However, our first priority is always the health and wellbeing of residents.

“Because of our concerns about the safety of residents we have submitted an application to the sheriff court seeking cancellation of the care home’s registration.

“This could allow new care arrangements to be put in place for residents of the home.

“We are working closely with partners including Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and the Scottish Government to ensure that residents experience appropriate care during this difficult time.”

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This is the second time the inspectorate has launched court action to strip a home of its registration.

It took HC-One, operators of the Home Farm care home in Portree, Skye, to court after 10 residents died in a coronavirus outbreak, before dropping the case after improvements were made.

That home has since been bought by NHS Highland, financed by the Scottish government.

Following the court hearing, the Care Inspectorate said: "At the sheriff court in Edinburgh today, an order was made to suspend the registration of Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead, Midlothian, to take effect from 18 January 2021. This order was made with the agreement of both parties.

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"The Care Inspectorate is working closely with partners at Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership and the Scottish Government to ensure people living at Thornlea Nursing Home experience safe care.

"We have taken this legal action is to ensure people experience safe care following serious concerns raised during an inspection. The suspension of the provider's registration will allow for transition to alternative care arrangements for residents.

"We continue to monitor the service closely. An inspection report will be published in due course."

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