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September 17th 2021

Medical Negligence

Nursing home agrees damages: ‘My mum was a nurse herself – to see how she was treated was heartbreaking’

Lauren Dale

Lauren Dale

Associate Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

Nursing home agrees damages: ‘My mum was a nurse herself – to see how she was treated was heartbreaking’

A Scarborough nursing home has agreed a five-figure damages settlement with a woman who took legal action claiming its poor standards of care made her mother’s final years of life ‘undignified, painful and unpleasant’.

A Scarborough nursing home has agreed a five-figure damages settlement with a woman who took legal action claiming its poor standards of care made her mother’s final years of life ‘undignified, painful and unpleasant’.

Susan Stone says she was worried as her mother Daisy Smith suffered skin damage and bruising, completely lost her mobility and movement and had a number of choking episodes when resident at the Rambla Nursing Home.

She says she repeatedly voiced her concerns over the care provided following her mother’s admission to the home in June 2012 to her death in 2018.

Due to having severe dementia, a history of falls and having suffered two strokes, Mrs Smith needed specialist 24-hour care, which the nursing home promised it provided.

However, Mrs Stone says standards repeatedly fell well below those she and her mother had hoped for, and claimed she herself was treated like a ‘troublemaker’ for challenging staff.

Although she feels the awarding of compensation is recognition that her complaints were justified, she says she will always be heartbroken that her mother was ‘robbed of the caring and loving final years of life she deserved’.

“When my mum had her second stroke social services said she needed round the clock care so we visited a number of homes together to make sure we chose one she felt comfortable with and liked the look of. Rambla Nursing Home stood out as we were told they would help her regain her mobility. It was all very positive in terms of how they said they could help,” she said.

“However, within months my mum was bedbound and I already had serious concerns. When I did raise my concerns they fell on deaf ears and when I became more vocal I was essentially made to feel like a troublemaker and was threatened with being banned from seeing my mum.

“I really wanted to move her, but as I didn’t have Power of Attorney for her health and welfare, and her place was NHS funded, my hands were tied. I’d rarely sleep or eat because I would be at home worrying about her, as I wasn’t with her and there to challenge the care provided.”

Legal case was launched highlighting string of alleged failings

Since her mother’s death in 2018, aged 91, Mrs Stone has been supported by Hudgell Solicitors as it has investigated the care provided.

She was represented in a legal case by solicitor Lauren Dale, who has supported many families in cases relating to care home neglect and abuse, and has led campaigns for improved standards of care.

She said: “There is nothing more upsetting for a family than feeling their elderly relatives are not being properly cared for in a nursing or care home, and too often care falls below the required standard simply because clear care plans are not put in place and followed.

“In this case there were clear concerns over many aspects of the care provided, and a lack of planning and recording of care.

“Our investigations highlighted concerns around record keeping and planning over key aspects of daily care, such as nutrition, hydration and the management of pressure sores, and failure to refer to appropriate specialists in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and dementia when required.

“It appeared that care plans were not followed and there were also instances where staff numbers were not at the level they should have been when providing aspects of care, including moving Mrs Smith, who suffered a number of injuries in her time at the nursing home.

“We are glad that legal representatives for the nursing home agreed to settle this case. This has been hugely distressing for our client, who despite the successful legal case, has been left feeling her mother was badly let down by those who were caring for her.

“In any circumstance a care provider should be open to continued dialogue with relatives, and should that not be the case it is entirely understandable that people have concerns, start asking further questions, and seek further advice.”

Daughter urges other families to raise concerns and not be ‘brushed off’

Mrs Stone says she has chosen to share her story in the hope that it encourages other families not to be ‘brushed aside’ when raising concerns.

“I’ve got to this stage where the home has agreed to pay damages only because I refused to go away. I wouldn’t be brushed aside and I don’t want that to happen to other families,” she said.

“I was repeatedly threatened from being banned from visiting, and as I have looked into this I have learned that this happens to many families. Hundreds of families are banned for complaining about the care of their loved ones. What sort of world do we live in where this can be allowed to happen?

“I knew my mother needed me to be seeing her, so I was left feeling unable to rock the boat any further when she was alive. I’d been to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the local authority safeguarding teams, but in my opinion they only safeguard the homes themselves. It is why I was determined to see this through after she had passed away.

“The elderly and vulnerable deserve to have the best quality end to life, yet I feel my mum was robbed of the caring and loving final years of life she deserved. She suffered an undignified, painful and unpleasant final few years.

“My mum was a nurse herself. She was caring and kind and that should be the minimum required attribute of anybody working in a care environment, but in my opinion that is not how it is. Not from my experience and many others I have spoken to.

“To see a dignified, kind-hearted woman treated as she was, was heartbreaking. I feel angry and frustrated that I couldn’t protect my mum, as I promised my dad shortly before he died that I’d always look after her.

“I won’t stop challenging the poor standard of care my mother received, as I don’t want others to suffer. I have now been asked to give evidence at a Nursing and Midwifery Council fitness to practice hearing in November in relation to my mother’s care.”

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