Devon CC has praised the “bravery” of the victims of abuse at two care homes in the county following the convictions of 13 people in relation to the case.
Adults with learning difficulties at Vielstone care home near Bideford and Gatooma care home near Holsworthy were routinely punished by being locked in rooms without food, heating or a toilet during 2010 and 2011.
The prosecution said residents at the homes, run by the company Atlas, were effectively imprisoned on more than 1,000 occasions in what amounted to “organised and systemic” abuse.
In a statement yesterday following the convictions, a Devon spokesman said: “We welcome the outcome of the court process, and would like to pay tribute to the bravery of the victims and their families without whose evidence this case would not have been brought.
“With hindsight it is clear that care standards at some of the homes fell far short of being acceptable, and as evidence of poor care came to light, we took robust action to ensure residents’ safety, while the police investigations and legal process ensued.”
Siân Walker, independent chair of Devon’s safeguarding adults board, said there would now be further consideration of what further lessons could be learned following the conclusion of the legal process.
She added: “In response [to the investigation], the authorities acted promptly to ensure the safety of residents, and have worked well together in partnership with individuals, their families and carers, to provide necessary support in safe environments that meet residents’ needs.”
The Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said the regulator had closed all care homes run by Atlas in 2012 due to serious concerns over a number of issues, including the routine use of “restrictive practices”.
However, she admitted the CQC should have responded more quickly to concerns raised earlier by someone using the service provided by the company.
Ms Sutcliffe added that a number of improvements had since been made to processes, including more thorough monitoring of services and changes to the way the CQC responds to safeguarding concerns.
She said: “The end of these trials is a chilling reminder that we must all remain vigilant to support and protect people in vulnerable circumstances who have every right to live their lives to the full, free from fear and treated with dignity and respect.”