A 92-year-old care home resident with dementia suffered a broken arm and hip after wandering out of the premises and onto a busy road without staff realising.
Staff at The Croft Residential Home, in Normanton, Wakefield, only became aware that Beatrice Hudson was missing when they received a call from a member of the public saying they had found a lady fallen, felt she may be from their home, and that they had called an ambulance.
Ms Hudson had to have plates put in her arm and undergo a half hip replacement, never regaining mobility after surgery. It meant she was fully dependent on her carers moving her in a wheelchair when she left hospital and transferred to a new care home.
Her niece, Jenny Taylor, 58, says she can never forgive the home as the injuries meant her aunty had an ‘undignified’ end to her life as she was almost completely bedbound.
She said: “My aunty wasn’t far from my home when someone saw her in the street and called the home, and it takes me a good 10 minutes to walk it. Therefore I’d say she must have been out of the home almost 20 minutes without anyone realising she had gone.
“Then, when they did find out that she was wandering the streets they didn’t call me straight away. It was about an hour later after the ambulance had taken her to hospital that we found out. I was very angry with that.”
Ms Hudson had been admitted to the care home by Mrs Taylor due to her advancing dementia. She was very mobile though, and able to get around without the need for assistance prior to her fall. She had previously fallen at the home, but had never previously tried to leave.
Legal claim alleged negligent care of resident by care home
Solicitor Sarah Scully, of medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This was a very sad case in which the failure to provide the most basic standards of care led to this elderly resident suffering serious, avoidable injuries.
“On the day in question, Ms Hudson had been noted to be agitated as she’d had a broken night’s sleep. She came down for breakfast and reported to carers that she was tired and the carers agreed that she would be best to go back to bed and let her take herself back to her room”.
The legal case alleged negligence in the fact the home failed to ensure there was adequate supervision of Mrs Hudson on the day in question given her noted confused state and her known dementia.
It was also alleged that the home had been in breach of its duty of care by failing to ensure there were adequate safety measures in place to prevent residents from absconding from the home without staff being notified.
Mrs Scully added: “The fact she was able to walk out unnoticed and onto a busy main road was unforgivable. She suffered serious injuries as a result of her fall, but it could have been much worse on the day had she wandered into oncoming traffic.
“It also ultimately meant that she spent the last months of her life in pain, undergoing surgery, and unable to get around freely as she had done prior to the accident. Her quality of life diminished considerably after this incident.”
Family angered by ‘undignified end to life’ of proud lady caused by injuries
Mrs Taylor says she had considered moving her mother to a new home prior to the accident following her previous fall, but said she didn’t want her aunty through such an upheaval at the age of 92.
“She’d come to live with me after her only son died but after six months I had to look for a care home because it was becoming very difficult at home with her and my daughter who has learning difficulties,” said Mrs Taylor.
“I wish I had moved her now though. She spent her final days in bed with incontinence pants on and she would have been mortified by that as she was such a dignified lady.
“In her younger days she was a restaurant manager and she loved walking around The Malvern Hills and Washington beach in Tyne and Wear. For a woman who prior to the fall was almost as fit as me and walked around the home freely, it was very sad.”
Insurers offered damages settlement after care home neglect case by Hudgell Solicitors
The Croft Residential Care Home is run by the Croft Care Group, which also operates homes in Scunthorpe, Durham, Huddersfield and Cleckheaton.
On its website, it tells families it provides care to ‘take the fear away by providing high quality caring staff who understand your needs’.
Insurers acting on behalf of the home accepted liability and offered the five-figure damages, but Mrs Taylor says their handling of the matter was the driving motivation for taking legal action.
“They weren’t remorseful and I never once got a sorry,” added Mrs Taylor.
“They were just obstructive when I asked questions as to how my aunty was able to get out of the home, and then why it took so long to contact me once they knew she’d been found in the streets.
“If they had been more open and apologetic I wouldn’t have taken legal action, but I felt I needed to hold them to account and to make sure other people were aware.