Family's fight to raise standards following 92-year-old's death after care home fall

Dorothy Ward
Dorothy Ward
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The family of a 92-year-old who died after a 12-hour wait for treatment for a fractured hip, say there should be more accountability over the care of the elderly.

Despite Dorothy Ward complaining of pain in her right side after falling out of bed at the Newgrove House Care Home in New Waltham in the early hours of last March 29, staff decided not to seek medical advice.

It was nearly nine hours before an ambulance was called and more than three for it to arrive, as the ambulance service assumed the case was non-urgent. Mrs Ward, who had dementia, died on April 1.

Daughter Vanessa Norton said: “Her last words to us were: ‘Help me’ which was very difficult and shocking. She was a good person, a gentle lady and didn’t deserve an end like that.”

An internal investigation began, but two staff members, who had been suspended, failed to attend meetings.

One was given a final warning, the other a verbal warning, and the third member of staff, the team leader, was referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Mrs Ward’s son went to a meeting with a regional manager on May 17 and was told there was no excuse for the failure to follow proper procedures.

He was shown posters which said staff should call for an ambulance immediately if a resident was in pain after a fall or accident.

Mrs Norton said: “Their policies were plastered all over the wall. The one thing they should have done, they didn’t and it left us feeling angry and bewildered.

She added: “People responsible should be answerable and face more severe consequences for their lack of action in these cases.

"If you were a childminder and a child gets hurt in your care, you are responsible. There seems to be no protection for the elderly.”

Last July the Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced inspection, leading to the home being rated inadequate, and put into "special measures."

Following the inspection the registered manager stood down.

The family decided not to pursue a claim, after taking legal advice, but wants to highlight the circumstances surrounding the case.

Danielle Barney, Head of the Medical Negligence Department at Bridge McFarland’s Grimsby office, said the investigation revealed "clear failings" in the level of care provided by the home.

She added: “It is hoped that the experience of Mrs Ward and the persistence of her family will encourage other patients and their families to highlight and report any concerns they may have about treatment standards in any care homes or healthcare setting.”

Registered manager at Newgrove House Care Home, Caroline Whelpton, who was appointed last August, said today "vast improvements had been made across all areas of the business."

A reinspection is due any time now.

She added: "I am confident it definitely won't be rated inadequate. It will definitely move forward."