Updated: Nov 18, 2018
TODAY, H.A.C.A.(West Sussex) has been formed to fight abuse of vulnerable adults in West Sussex care homes. Led by families whose relatives have suffered serious injury, or even died, as a result of poor care and abuse, The new pressure group is intended to provide a forum and a strong voice for the vulnerable and their families.
In recent years there have been a number of high-profile significant issues surrounding care in West Sussex. Currently, Sussex police are investigating the deaths of 13 people in care homes owned by the private-sector Sussex Healthcare group. Previously, the Orchid View scandal saw Police probing the deaths of 19 people at at Southern Cross care home in the county.
But it is not just the private sector home owners who have been found wanting in terms of adult care services. West Sussex’s history of failure puts it at the heart of national concerns over adult care and safeguarding. WSCC itself has been severely criticised in recent high-profile adult social care cases.
Earlier this year, the authorities, including WSCC, came under fire for their handling of the case of Gary Lewis and Matthew Bates, who suffered massive injuries in 2015 at another West Sussex care home. Care agencies had failed to protect the men, who suffer from serious disabilities, or effectively investigate their injuries.
Martyn Lewis (Gary's brother) and Mark Bates (Matthew's father) are at the forefront of moves to create this new group. It was their dogged fight for justice for their brother and son respectively that eventually led to a damning report on the role of West Sussex’s care agencies.
Speaking today they said: ‘Clearly the agencies did not learn sufficiently from the sad events at Orchid View in 2010 and other events before that. The full media spotlight is now on the historic and sadly continuing problems in adult care within West Sussex.
‘The culture appears flawed and continues to support and protect those that conduct themselves badly and cause harm. We believe that if the agencies in West Sussex had taken our concerns seriously in 2015, and taken proper and effective action, the numerous deaths and other injuries that are currently under police investigation would have been prevented.’
As well as offering support, HACA hopes that through widening the group it will be possible to gauge the true extent of the problem, form a substantial 'body of opinion', and force-up standards in West Sussex with a significant voice for families of those cared for in the county. Currently, it is difficult for relatives acting alone to confront issues of harm, especially since there are so many agencies involved: Local Authorities and their Safeguarding Boards, Police, Care Quality Commission as the care regulator, health professionals and care home owners.