Watchdog forced to close care home as owner is in prison

CARE watchdogs yesterday said they had been forced to close down an old people’s home in Yorkshire after discovering that its registered owner had been jailed for grievous bodily harm.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is responsible for the licencing and inspection of care homes, said Melton Court residential home in Maltby, Rotherham, could no longer be allowed to operate.

Officials said they had recently discovered that Ishtiaq Zahir, the man named on official paperwork as the owner, had been sent to prison in 2010 after attacking another man in Bradford.

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He was jailed for eight years for both grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm, and the commission said that as soon as it became aware it issued a notice that the home’s licence could be revoked.

Care home operators are able to appeal against the decision, but the commission said no appeal had been received, meaning the home was now operating illegally, a situation which forces its 21 residents to move out.

A Care Quality Commission spokesman said: “CQC has had long-standing concerns regarding the registration of Melton Court Care Centre in Rotherham.

“These concerns centre on the registered provider Ishtiaq Zahir’s fitness to provide care services, his inability to oversee the day-to-day running of the home due to his current imprisonment, and his failure to pay registration fees.

“After careful consideration, CQC decided to cancel the provider’s registration and notified this to Mr Zahir by letter on September 2012.

“He chose not to appeal against this decision and, therefore, as of November 23, 2012, Melton Court has been operating without CQC registration and cannot continue to operate as a care home.

“We recognise the disruption and anxiety our decision will cause to the people living at Melton Court but have an overarching obligation to the public to ensure that all providers of services to vulnerable people are fit to hold registration.

“Our priority at this time is to work with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to ensure that people living at Melton Court are safe and are supported to find suitable alternative accommodation.”

Maureen Wallace, whose 94- year-old mother lives at the home, said she was conerned that she would die if she was moved. Mrs Wallace said her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was one of 21 residents at the 24-bed home and said “she loves it”.

Relatives have been told the home could close in 10 days.

A spokesman for Rotherham Council said the authority was fully aware of the concerns being expressed by residents at Melton Court and their relatives following the decision and was “doing all it could to help”.

She added: “We appreciate this is an extremely difficult time for a group of elderly people who have lived at one particular residential home for a long period and our priority throughout this process will be their well-being.

“Once we were informed of the CQC’s decision to de-register the privately-run home, we and our NHS partners then had no option but to put our Home Closure Protocol into place.

“We are working very closely with all our partners and the staff at the home and committing all our resources to transfer the 21 residents as quickly as possible over the next 10 days. Seven social workers, three district nurses and voluntary organisations together with senior representatives from the authority have been at the home assisting with the move and addressing the concerns of the residents and their relatives.

“The owner and the manager of the home were aware of the stance being taken by the CQC in September and had options to resolve the issue then. They could have sought to satisfy the CQC’s concerns and, if necessary, could have tried to find an alternative provider.

“They did not do this nor did the owner appeal against the CQC’s decision to de-register. Obviously, the authority would have worked with them to avoid this current distressing situation of having to move people.”