Hull woman who was denied final visits to her dying mother in a care home wins Ombudsman ruling

A Hull woman was denied final in person visits to her late mother by her care home which also gave her belongings to the wrong family after she died.

St Mary's Care Centre, Anlaby

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she felt she had missed out on “precious moments” with her mother who died in August 2020 after suffering a stroke.

She added management at Anlaby’s St Mary’s Care Centre, which her mother moved to in May 2019, lacked “compassion” when they also cut her brother’s visit short for being late.

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It comes as the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld a complaint from the woman and ordered St Mary’s to apologise to her and her family.

The care home, in Beverley Road, declined to make a statement on the decision when approached for comment.

The Ombudsman stated in its ruling from July that the care home was at fault for failing to arrange an end of life visit for the complainant and her brother.

It ruled it amounted to a “significant injustice” and it failed to heed coronavirus guidance which allowed for in person visits for residents at the end of their lives.

The home carried out a ‘Lessons Learned’ postmortem of the case and agreed to improve arrangements including for dealing with families of residents at the end of life.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the home ‘good’ following an inspection in February but deemed its leadership as ‘requiring improvement’.

St Mary’s first stopped in person visits in March last year along with other care homes and in line with government instructions following the onset of the pandemic and lockdown.

But revised guidance was issued in July 2020 stating homes could make allowances for families whose relatives were at the end of life stage.

The complaint’s mother suffered a stroke in the same month and was discharged back to the home on Friday, July 31.

The complainant visited her afterwards but could only see and speak to her through a window which staff were supposed to put on opening restrictors during morning handovers.

That did not happen on the morning the complainant visited so she lent inside but was told not to by an “abrupt” nurse despite being allowed to before.

Her mother’s condition deteriorated following the visit, with home records showing staff discussed it with a pharmacist and a GP told them someone would be in touch about palliative care.

The complainant’s brother, who lives five hours drive away, arrived 10 minutes late for a rearranged outside visit on Tuesday, August 18.

The home told him the visit had been cut from half an hour to 15 minutes as a result.

The complainant then had a visit through the window on Friday, August 20 and the home said she could see her in person if her condition worsened over the weekend.

Her mother died at 6am the following morning, according to the ruling which stated the home did not believe she had deteriorated enough for an in person visit.

The complainant went to the home to collect her belongings a few days later to find her handbag had not been labelled and had been given to the wrong family.

It was later returned and the provider which runs the care home wrote to the complainant in November apologising and stating decisions on visits were made on an “individual basis”.

The complainant said the ordeal had “upset her”.

She said: “It’s those precious moments we’ll never get back, I don’t think management acted quickly enough.

“I remember during one of our visits through the window, my mum’s neighbour came into her room and gave her three kisses on the forehead, as if she was passing them on from us.

“But I felt it should have been us who were able to do that.

“It was a case of just visiting her and seeing her through the window before she died, I told my brother to just keep talking to her because hearing is the last sense to go.

“I have no qualms with the staff who looked after my mum, they were great the problem was management.

“I would have expected more empathy from them, it was my mum’s home, I know it’s difficult for care homes at the moment but there’s ways of dealing with people.”