POLICE are investigating the deaths of 16 elderly people at a care home.

Detectives were called into St Michael’s View Care Home, in South Shields, South Tyneside, after the death of greatgrandmother Joyce Wordingham, 81, in February.

Police confirmed they are also looking into the deaths of 15 other residents at the privately run home, dating back more than a year.

A police spokesman said: “We are working with partners and liaising with the families of those involved.”

Mrs Wordingham, a widow who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, had been in the home for about 18 months.

The alarm was raised by an out-of-hours GP who attended the home after her death.

A post-mortem examination showed she died of bronchial pneumonia.

It is understood the investigation will focus on the competence of the care she was given.

Detectives say they started the inquiry after a 45-year-old woman voluntarily attended South Shields police station.

Southern Cross Healthcare, which owns the care home, declined to comment while police were investigating.

In 2004, the home, then called Bamburgh Court, hit the headlines when it was rocked by a hygiene scandal, with elderly residents found to be living in filth with faeces smeared on the walls.

Dementia patients were forced to sleep on filthy mattresses on the floor and mouldy food was left rotting in cupboards.

Health inspector Darren Hobson labelled it the worst home he had ever seen.

The centre was given a notice to improve, and manager Ann Rigby was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The home is now under new management and the most recent report of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, from July last year, said it provided good clinical care.

The families of the other 15 residents whose deaths are being investigated will be informed over the next few days.