Category Archives: (Don’t) Care Homes

Our fine local residential facilities for older and vulnerable citizens, plus all the safeguarding issues that come with them (or don’t…)


holwod hosueThe CQC is supposedly the independent regulator for inspecting health and social care settings so that the vulnerable remain safe from harm and exploitation in care homes and the like.

They became famous in the wake of the WINTERBOURNE VIEW home scandal, where animals masquerading as human care workers routinely abused adults with learning difficulties.  The situation was highlighted by BBC’s PANORAMA using a hidden camera.  The CQC came later.

When Bristol City Council closed all their residential care homes for the elderly in 2013 due to cuts, they promised that the existing residents would be transferred to safe care settings.

“Don’t worry,” they said,” the CQC will INSPECT AND CLOSE any homes that do not reach tough standards.”

What a load of bollox. As the BRISTOLIAN’s investigation of Holmwood House has revealed, the home has failed every inspection for the last five years, killed a resident and is now subject to legal action but it’s still open for business!

The CQC web site says that there are currently 77 settings classed as ‘INADEQUATE’ and 316 ‘NEEDING IMPROVEMENT’.  Which is just funky unless it’s your nan lying all day in her own urine, hoping that somebody will turn her over to ease the bed sores.  Why don’t they shut these homes?

The answer is LACK OF PROVISION. Councils have been forced to shut all their homes. So if inspectors suggest closure, the money grabbing care home bosses  supported by council bosses  say, “OK. Fine. But where are you going to put the residents?”

Look at Holmwood House with over 100 residents, many placed there by Bristol City Council. The truth is that dodgy care home bosses have FREE REIN to rake in money by paying care workers a pittance in under staffed settings while the vulnerable suffer and in some cases die.

This comes after the elderly have paid their national insurance all their lives and, sometimes, have had to sell their homes to pay for their abuse.

And it will continue because nobody cares unless you start caring.


The BRISTOLIAN has already broken news on how bungling managers in a desperate attempt to save money have cut services to the vulnerable. 

They have lumped together elderly people suffering with dementia with adults with learning difficulties, some of whom have challenging behavior and can be violent.  Then the council cut
staff.  People are already being hurt and needs are not being met.  The policy is absolutely nuts.

So what are they doing now?  increasing staff levels? making things safe? Don’t be daft. They are offering the staff who are left redundancy!

And the poor sods who are working in these conditions are running for the exit, which will lead to more dangerous conditions for staff and service users.


The two muppets responsible for all this, senior social care  bosses SHEENA ‘GRIM REAPER’ HUGGINS and VARETA ‘MAD DOG’ BRYAN have now turned their attention to the Bush residential.  This is a home for children with learning difficulties who live at home.  The service gives a break to parents who look after their children and the plans are to CUT THE SERVICE BY 50%.

If parents lose this service, some will have to put their children in residential care, costing us, the tax payer, a whole lot more than the £250K these demented managers think they are going to save.

Parents were only given a couple of hours notice of a meeting to discuss the plans while managers know full well that these caring parents find it difficult to drop everything to come to meeting.

The council are refusing to talk properly to the parents mainly because they know their plans are barking mad and dangerous  but they don’t care. ‘Mad Dog’ is getting a
redundancy package of tens of thousands of pounds soon. A suitable reward for decimating
services and lives?

Don’t let them get away with it. These managers should be held fully accountable for their decisions, the cost to our city and the destroyed lives.

When will they stop?  When they finally kill someone?


Writes The BRISTOLIAN‘s Social Care Correspondent:

So what’s this privatisation of public services thing all about, then?

Well, If you believe the papers, it’s the improvement of services because the workers who deliver them presently are lazy, incompetent, uneconomical and probably have a better pension than you. What a load of arse!

For starters most of the companies that are bidding to run our services also have shares in the media companies that peddle this one-sided MISINFORMATION.

The privatisation of public services means that large companies are providing services for the sick, elderly and vulnerable for financial gain. They have a legal duty towards their shareholders to MAXIMISE PROFIT – a duty that outweighs the rights of the service users or staff, who are often untrained, under resourced and on zero hours contracts with few checks on their background.

We are told that quangos like the Care Quality Commission monitor privatised care Well, they’ve inspected Holmwood House on numerous occasions and the home has FAILED EVERY TIME but they’ve been allowed to carry on regardless and people have died in the meantime.

After you’ve worked all your life and paid your National Insurance, you’d be hoping for some kindness and care with dignity. Tough. In all likelihood you’ll be laying there with your pyjamas round your ankles waiting for some sixteen year old on the Minimum Wage to perform a bowel evacuation on you. Her first time… Just like yours!

After all, they don’t want you being a nuisance and SHITTING YOURSELF because you’re in bed all day with nobody to take you to the toilet.

Meanwhile all that money you raised by selling your house to pay for it will wing its way to the Cayman Islands accounts of a private ‘care provider’. Fucking perky!

Let’s get down the Council House and do a bowel evacuation on those that are flogging off our care and see how they like it.

Anybody fancy some BRISTOLIAN-branded rubber gloves..?


After The BRISTOLIAN blew the lid on the dangerous understaffing in Day Centres – which have seen service users with dementia and learning difficulties being lumped together despite the clear risks (see issue #4.11) – you would have thought that the BUNGLING BOSSES responsible would do something.

We stated that centres were running at nearly 50% staff absences. Things have now got even worse, with dim-witted managers making more than twenty people redundant!

Many of those ‘restructured’ out of their jobs were glad to be out and away from the CHAOS – yet also very concerned for those left behind and expected to work miracles with nowhere near the resources necessary.

Sources we have spoken to describe “a tangible fear that someone will die soon”.

Meanwhile management has started to realise that it will have to get casual workers in to plug the gaps, as even the lamentable Care Quality Commission won’t let them get away with such CHRONIC UNDER-STAFFING.

But here’s the kicker: the casual workers brought in – costing the council more money than the permanent staff – are likely to be the exact same people they made redundant only last month. That’s right – whilst they DEVASTATE the service, the idiots in charge can’t even save money.

It’s enough to make you wonder who has the learning difficulties.


HOLMWOOD HOUSEAs part of our ongoing investigation local private care home of horrors HOLMWOOD HOUSE, where we have reported the concerns of family members over several resident deaths and allegations of neglect, The BRISTOLIAN has taken delivery of a large bundle of medical documents. These relate to the management and distribution of controlled drugs there in 2013 – when the home was briefly managed by a State Registered Nurse (SRN), SIMONE SMITH.

We understand that the police have studied these documents and confirmed that a considerable number of them contain FORGED SIGNATURES. At present it is unclear who was responsible for the forgeries, as the police appear to have discontinued their inquiry.

Also in the bundle is evidence of a DRUG AUDIT ordered by then-manager Smith which was conducted by struck-off nurse ISLA MEEK, who was working at the home as a “consultant”.

There’s little doubt Meek did the work, as the audit was produced on the headed business paper of ‘Isla Meek Consulting’. Obviously, a struck-off nurse should not be involved in any way in the management of controlled drugs at a nursing home.

in a further extraordinary twist, Smith is now using these dodgy drug audits herself as evidence to get another former nurse from the home STRUCK OFF by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). A hearing is expected later this year.

Smith left Holmwood House in the Autumn of 2013 and is now employed by Four Seasons Healthcare as a manager at OAKTREE CARE HOME in Yate. Four Seasons Healthcare rejects any claims of wrongdoing regarding Smith, and told The BRISTOLIAN that Bristol City Council’s Safeguarding Team have described Smith as “a whistleblower”!

Although, as far as we can tell, the only whistleblowing Smith could have done would be in regards to her own management of controlled drugs.

Forged drug records? Bent audits? The Holmwood House affair gets a whole lot murkier…


The BRISTOLIAN‘s Health & Wellbeing Correspondent explains more about the dangerous changes in Bristol’s council Care Services

Bristol City Council’s adult care services have been “UNDER REVIEW” for nearly two years. The idea behind the reviews is to CUT SERVICES TO THE VULNERABLE. Two services have been drastically affected: residential care for the elderly, and day services for adults with learning difficulties.

Unions have vainly attempted to stop the worst effects for service users and the care workers who support them.

As hard as people have tried, managers have continued to slash and burn these services. Elderly People’s Homes (EPHs) were closed and day services shrunk and made DANGEROUS by uncaring managers.

First to close were the EPHs. Residents were scattered as they lost their homes and care. Many were put in private homes – and looking at Holmwood House, we know what that could mean.

Hundreds of staff were also made redundant and thrown on the dole. But not for long. Clueless boss NIKKI COLE soon realised the slash-and-burn had gone too far too soon and staffing levels were too low even for the council to tolerate.

Care workers were re-employed at great cost to the Council Tax payer. Was Cole held to account? no. She’ll be handed a huge redundancy package and allowed to retire as residential care struggles to make ends meet.

The situation in day services is even worse. Contrary to all advice, Service Director VARETA BRYAN and sidekick SHEENA HUGGINS created three ‘supercentres’ for day care to bring together elderly dementia care patients and those with learning difficulties.

Everyone who works in the service says that this is barking mad and dangerous. Frail elderly people are at great risk even with full

Staffing quotas, which is unlikely. Many staff have left because they do not want to work in an environment which could be seen as negligent and abusive.

Managers have lied and disciplined staff who stood up to them. One worker was so upset by the plans they cried and shouted during a so-called consultation. They were given a management warning. Bryan then sacked him… But also ensured he got a LARGE PAYOUT to buy his silence.

This service is dangerous and cruel. One manager who contacted The BRISTOLIAN fought back tears as he described how he tries to manage services in a crap environment with no resources and too few staff. He had the clear impression that when – not if, but when – someone gets seriously hurt, he will get the blame.

Vareta Bryan declined to comment to The BRISTOLIAN.



Bristol City Council’s residential care services for the elderly and day care services for adults with learning difficulties are in CRISIS after a botched reorganisation designed to slash costs.

Contrary to all advice, council care bosses VARETA BRYAN and SHEENA HUGGINS have created three ‘supercentres’ for day care where they bring together elderly dementia care patients and people with learning difficulties. Some of the adults with learning difficulties exhibit challenging behaviour, which can be violent.

At one ‘supercentre’ – the 600 CLUB in Knowle – at least ten workers are off sick – one third of the entire staff team. Someone has already been seriously hurt and had their FRONT TEETH KICKED IN. Would you want your granny in this place?

LOCKLEAZE DAY CENTRE has seventeen workers off. That’s nearly 50% of the workforce and managers will not get agency staff in to cover the gap because of budget cuts. Recently a service user had a seizure and the keys to the drug cabinet could not be found.

At the last of the new ‘supercentres’ in ST GEORGE there is no proper kitchen; the toilets are too small for staff to help with the personal needs of the service users and seating is not fit for the elderly with dementia. An insider told The BRISTOLIAN: “The whole service is a car crash. Someone will die soon. All down to penny-pinching.”

Managers, we are told, are now planning a social enterprise for these under-resourced services so they no longer have to be responsible for them… Nice.


Expert lawyers investigating the death of a woman who received treatment from a nurse at a Bristol care home who is being investigated over allegations of abuse have called for an inquest to be held into the pensioner’s death to investigate the care she was given.

Serious injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office are representing Annette Whiting, the daughter of Kathleen Cole, who died in August last year after being under the care of Holmwood House Nursing Home in Westbury-On-Trym for five years.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now written to HM Coroner for Avon, Maria Voisin, requesting an inquest is held into the 77-year-old’s death, as they believe the results of a number of internal investigations into standards at the home and Mrs Cole’s care require further inquiry.

Her cause of death was initially recorded as being from natural causes but a post-mortem carried out before she was cremated resulted in the cause of death being altered to pneumonia.

Lawyers have seen notes taken during an internal meeting after Mrs Cole’s death which revealed issues with nutrition and hydration, manual handling, skin care and management, administration of medication, failures to manage a pressure sore and a failure to diagnose pneumonia prior to her transfer to Westbury Nursing Home from Holmwood House.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the BBC in January found there have been eight substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect at Holmwood House in the last two years.

Jonathan Peacock, Regional Managing Partner and specialist abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office is representing Annette.

Jonathan Peacock says,

We have reviewed a number of investigations into the care Mrs Cole received and believe factors included inadequate training, qualifications, management and supervision need exploring further.

“We are calling on the Coroner on behalf of Annette to hold an inquest into Mrs Cole’s death as she would like answers about whether more could have been done to prevent her mother’s suffering and subsequent death.

“We also have questions about how many other patients may have been affected and we believe an inquest would assist in gaining answers about this.”

Holmwood House stopped admitting patients with nursing needs under what was described as a “voluntary” arrangement. It followed a risk assessment by the council and a suspension of all admissions from June until August last year.

Among Annette’s concerns are that her mother was given an enema which she believes was unnecessary and left her mother distressed. The nurse, Cicily Joseph, was found guilty of assault – a verdict later overturned on appeal.  She resigned from Holmwood after being suspended.

However, a council investigation upheld an allegation of abuse and Ms Joseph remains under investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Annette, 54, from Seamills, said: “My mum deserved to be treated with dignity and respect and I thought she was in the safest place possible at Holmwood House with people who were used to providing her specific care needs.

“I feel that I now owe it to my mum to get answers about her care and I believe an inquest is the only way to do this. I am also worried about other residents’ treatment and would like to know that everything possible is being done by the home to improve the failures identified by the CQC.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise relating to abuse and neglect claims


HOLMWOODHOUSETHE BRISTOLIAN has been passed sensational information from a Freedom of Information request that reveals that there was a major, unpublicised investigation regarding the safeguarding of residents  at the ‘The House of Horrors’, HOLMWOOD HOUSE last year.

According to information contained in the response to the request, an investigation Web Exclusivetook place at the home in May 2013 and it involved Bristol City Council, the police, the NHS and the home itself.  The reason for the investigation is listed as “physical abuse and neglect through  medication error (x4)”, which suggests that, yet again, serious issues in the dispensing of medicines have arisen at the home and that other residents at the home have been abused.

The outcome of the investigation, as usual, was a fudge with the council concluding, even after their intervention, that “some areas show improvement seen (sic) but inconsistencies are now being addressed through a specialist support team.”

The report also tell us that Holmwood instituted a voluntary ban on all admissions between 3 June 2013 and 23 August 2013 while Bristol City Council were supposedly monitoring the home. This is the period in which AN ELDERLY WOMAN DIED twelve days after leaving their care, having inexplicably lost her swallowing reflex and one third of her body weight.

So it looks like a safeguarding  investigation took place at the home just prior to this death and seemingly no lessons were really learned and opportunities were missed. It makes you wonder what it would take for the owners and managers of the home to be prosecuted and for the dump to be shut down.

Will the authorities tolerate absolutely anything in their godforsaken private care homes?


HOLMWOODHOUSEWhen Kathleen Cole was removed from Holmwood House care home (see The BRISTOLIAN passim), the new home into which she was placed was so concerned about the state she was in that they took a series of photos to carefully record the clearly-visible injuries that she had suffered.

With the permission of Kathleen’s daughter, we publish here a selection of those photos.Web Exclusive

This is what abuse looks like:

Face only

Kathleen Cole

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the arm

Bruising to the leg

Skin tear on the elbow

Skin tear on the elbow

Grade 3 bed sore

Grade 3 bed sore

» If you’re concerned by what you’ve seen and want some ACTION from Bristol City Council rather than reports, write to or phone the following and tell them “SHUT DOWN THE HORROR HOME NOW”!

Alison Comley
Director Health and Social Care
Tel: 0117 353 7860

Mike Hennessey
Director Neighbourhoods
Tel: 0117 903 7061 or 0117 352 1069

George Ferguson
Twitter: @georgefergusonx