COUNCIL safeguarding teams are investigating a Darlington care home that is at the centre of allegations a resident slept rough after leaving without staff noticing, the Northern Echo can reveal.

As reported earlier this week, a whistleblower told the Echo that a vulnerable man was returned to the Hollyhurst nursing home by police after travelling to Newcastle last month.

He is understood to have left the home the night before and slept rough alone in the city before attempting to board a train back to Darlington without a ticket.

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council has now confirmed that the authority is aware of an incident at the home, which is run by Cygnet Health Care.

She said: “Our safeguarding team has launched an investigation as a result.

“We will work with relevant partners, including the Care Quality Commission and Cygnet Health Care throughout the investigation.”

The Northern Echo:

The entrance to the care home. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

British Transport Police confirmed officers returned a man to Hollyhurst early on the morning of April 14th after concerns for his welfare were raised at the city’s Central Station.

The whistleblower told the Echo that care home staff only became aware of the incident following a call from BTP officers.

A spokeswoman for Hollyhurst, which cares for people with learning disabilities and complex needs, earlier confirmed a resident who left the home was returned by police having come to no harm.

She said the circumstances of how he left the home had been addressed by management and reported to appropriate bodies.

The Care Quality Commission is aware of an incident having taken place at Hollyhurst.

A spokeswoman for the CQC, which regulates care homes, said it was monitoring the service closely and currently awaiting the outcome of an investigation launched by Cygnet.

Earlier this week, 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.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Darlington Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054.