A VULNERABLE care home resident slept rough and had to be returned by police after leaving a Darlington facility, The Northern Echo understands.

A spokesperson for the Hollyhurst nursing home last night said that its management team had investigated the issue, adding: "We can confirm a resident left the home and was subsequently supported to return safely by the police, having come to no harm.

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"The circumstances of how the resident left the home have been addressed by our management team.

"In line with our obligations, we reported this to the appropriate bodies and no further action is being taken externally.”

A whistleblower claimed to The Northern Echo that staff had failed to notice the man’s overnight absence from the home and only became aware following a call from the British Transport Police the following morning.

The resident is understood to have slept rough alone in the city on April 13 before attempting to board a train back to Darlington without a ticket.

A spokesman for British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed that officers had attended Newcastle Central train station earlier that morning after having concerns for the man's welfare.

He said: “Officers engaged with the man and he was safely returned to his residence.”

A spokeswoman from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates care homes, said: “We understand the provider is carrying out its own investigation and we await the outcome.”

She said the CQC was monitoring the service closely and liaising with provider Cygnet, with the priority “at all times” being the health and wellbeing of those using the service.

The Northern Echo: The entrance to the care home. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe entrance to the care home. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

A spokesperson for Hollyhurst added: “We take the safety and privacy of all our residents extremely seriously, which is why we would not disclose personal information about an individual or their care plan.

"Hollyhurst is a specialist residential home that supports individuals with learning disabilities and complex needs in Darlington, our residents are not detained and are regularly supported to access the local community and to live as independently as possible.”

Following an unannounced inspection sparked by a serious incident at the home last year, the CQC found that Hollyhurst required improvement in a number of areas.

During their visit to the home in October, inspectors uncovered safeguarding breaches and found that the service was not always safe or well led.

A report published following the inspection said a serious incident that happened in July 2021 was not reported to the CQC or investigated internally for almost two months.

Gaps in medicine records and the significant impact of staff sickness levels were also highlighted in the report.

However, following the inspection, the home’s registered manager told the CQC they were up to date with incident reviews, that medicine records were in place and that steps had been taken to ensure incidents would be reviewed in a timely way going forward.

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