Police are looking into the deaths of 16 older people at a privately-run Northumbrian care home.
Detectives were called to St Michael’s View care home, in South Shields, South Tyneside, after the death of an 80-year-old woman, named in local paper the Northern Echo as Joyce Wordingham, in February.
A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “We are working closely with partners to ascertain the exact circumstances surrounding the death.
“Northumbria Police and its partners have a duty to fully investigate all the circumstances surrounding any unexplained death. Officers are in close contact with the woman’s family who are being updated with any developments.”
According to newspaper reports, Mrs Wordingham had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and been in the home for about 18 months.
A post-mortem examination showed she died from bronchial pneumonia but further tests will be carried out.
Detectives said a 45-year-old woman voluntarily attended South Shields police station in relation to Mrs Wordingham’s death.
Police confirmed they were also reviewing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 15 other residents dating back more than a year, though stressed these did not form part of a formal investigation.
As part of this review it was working with partners and liaising with the affected families. The news follows a Care Quality Commission inspection in March in which the home’s quality rating was downgraded from good to poor.
A CQC spokesperson added it was aware of the police investigation and was working closely with local partners “under multi-agency safeguarding arrangements for vulnerable adults”.
South Tyneside Council said it had introduced additional specialist social care and health support at the home as a result of the investigation.
A council spokesperson said: “Quality of care is being closely monitored on a daily basis.”
Southern Cross Healthcare, which owns the care home, declined to comment during the ongoing investigation.