Inquest told of care home failings
Tuesday 10th September 2013, 1:11PM BST.
Care home residents were given wrong doses of medication and left soiled and unattended because of severe staff shortages and a lack of management, an inquest has heard.
Call bells were also often not answered for long periods or could not be reached by elderly people living at the Orchid View care home in Copthorne, West Sussex, the hearing was told.
Family members of some of the 19 residents who died after being placed in the now defunct care home gave evidence at the inquest today at County Hall North, Horsham.
They spoke of finding their relatives not being tended to properly, a lack of physical and mental stimulation at the home and not being shown care plans they had asked to see.
Louise Halfpenny said her mother Jean Halfpenny’s health deteriorated after she started living at Orchid View, which was run by Southern Cross.
The 77-year-old was also given three times more warfarin than her prescribed dose on regular occasions by staff at the care home, the inquest was told.
Her daughter told the court that the family had chosen Orchid View after her mother, who had worked at an airport parking company and then as a dental receptionist until four years before her death, suffered a severe stroke in May 2009, because she needed a high level of care.
She said that although it cost more than £3,000 a month, it was new, impressive, had state-of-the-art equipment and meant she would be near friends and family.
But Ms Halfpenny said the day her mother arrived at the care home in November 2009 she encountered problems with Sadeo Singh, the senior nurse, who she described as “obnoxious, rude and unprofessional”, and who was a problem throughout her mother’s stay.
She said: “He pulled my mother out of her chair to a standing position even though she had not been on her feet for six months. My mother was terrified.”
She also said that the care home manager Meera Reed was often not there and would be trying to run the home in her absence, the inquest heard.
She said on one occasion she arrived at 10am to find her mother in bed, hungry, thirsty and with the curtains drawn.
She told the court a social worker who visited her mother in February 2010 found her naked in bed, crying and complaining that she was cold.
Ms Halfpenny said she was reprimanded when she brought in food to supplement her mother’s diet and had witnessed staff using their own money to buy provisions to cook Christmas dinner.
After making complaints about her mother’s care the visiting policy changed and Ms Halfpenny was told she could not visit first thing in the morning or at meal times, she said.
Ms Halfpenny told the court: “There seemed to be a severe shortage of staff at the home.
“It would often take 15 to 20 minutes for my mother’s call bell to be answered when I was there because other people were waiting to have their call bells answered.
“Some of the carers talked about under-staffing. One of the carers my mother liked did not work there for long because she was so stretched that she did not have time to get things done.”
She added that continued vascular problems with her mother’s feet were not dealt with by the home and that when she brought a chiropodist into the home she was told she had “broken the chain of care”.
Ms Halfpenny and her sister Linzi Collins discussed moving their mother to another home but decided against it because they did not want to cause her any more upheaval, the inquest was told.
Jean Halfpenny died at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill on May 5 2010 from a stroke caused by a blood clot in her brain.
Ms Halfpenny said she was told later by police that her mother had been given too much warfarin.
Lindsey Ball, whose father Wilfred Gardner, 85, died on May 1 2011, broke down in tears while describing the state she had found him in at the home.
Mrs Ball flew over from her home in Australia to clear her father’s flat and went to visit him on April 11 2011.
She said: “I was shocked at the way he looked. I just took one look at him and thought “he looks terrible”.
“I actually turned to my son and said, “I will not be coming home with you”.”
Mrs Ball told the court she never saw a care plan and there were several occasions when her father was in a lot of pain but he was not given medication.
When she was told he had to ask for it, she said: “He’s got dementia, how would he know what to say?”
She said her father was diabetic and had to inject insulin up to three times a day but there were some occasions where there were no strips to check his blood sugar levels.
She said: “He was also not always given his insulin but I only found that out after reading paperwork I was sent.”
She told the inquest her father was not taken outside very often and was left to feed himself which he struggled with and he would often end up “wearing most of it”.
Brian Donaghey, whose mother Maureen Donaghey died on July 27 2011, told the inquest he was interviewed by Sussex Police about his mother’s time at the care home.
He said that as the number of residents increased at the home the staffing levels did not and they were less able to cope.
He said they had chosen the home because his 87-year-old mother had dementia but he felt many of the staff did not have the right training to deal with this, the inquest heard.
Three to four months before his mother’s death he questioned whether she was receiving her correct medication as she was becoming moody and aggressive, the court was told.
Mr Donaghey also expressed concern over the way staff moved some of the residents and told the inquest his mother had suffered bruising as a result of being pulled up by her wrists.
The other residents whose inquests are being held are Percy Bates, 95; Maisie Martin, 89; Graham Miller, 88; Ellen Bates, 88; Margaret Tucker, 77; John Holmes, 85; Enid Trodden, 86; Bertram Jerome, 93; Doris Fielding, 90; and Jean Leatherborrow, 88.
The cases of six other residents will be dealt with by way of paperwork on the final day of the inquest, the court was told.
They are Ethel Mehennett, Ronald Kenward, Brenda Anderson, Vera Redmond, Winnifred Redhead and Barbara Wilkinson.
The inquest was adjourned until 10am tomorrow.