Grieving parents condemn son’s care

Dean Spicer who died at Havelock House residential home in Polegate
Dean Spicer who died at Havelock House residential home in Polegate

The heartbroken parents of a disabled man who died in a nursing home from a treatable illness within 12 hours of arriving have condemned the care he received after an investigation into his death found he could have been dead for up to eight hours before staff noticed.

Dean Spicer – who suffered from severe arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis – was admitted to Havelock House, a nursing home in Polegate, for respite care following a severe bout of diarrhoea and was to be checked every hour.

A post mortem examination into the 48-year-old’s death found he had suffered a lung infection that was likely to have developed as his immune system was so weakened.

His parents, Len and Frances Spicer from Hailsham, said the social services investigation and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) review flagged a number of ‘very worrying issues’ at the home, including its failure to ensure sufficient staff were on duty.

In a statement on behalf of the Spicers, Anita Jewitt of medical lawyers Irwin Mitchell, said, “Whilst liability was not admitted by Havelock House, it goes without saying that Mr and Mrs Spicer have been left shocked and appalled at their loss and continue to struggle to come to terms with what happened amidst grave concerns that lessons have been learned.

“They are now calling on the home and the authorities to provide assurances that procedures have been reviewed and that no-one will ever suffer the way they have going forward.”

Bhardwaj Dhunnoo, who is the owner of Havelock House, along with his wife Tara, disputed some of the ‘worrying issues’ that the parents had said were highlighted. He added, “From my understanding the family has been compensated by my insurers without us admitting liability. The coroner’s report said he died from natural causes.

“There was an investigation by social services and the report does not blame us at all [for his death].

“There was a recommendation to review our procedures, which we have done. They have monitored us and as far as I know they are happy with us. It was an emergency admission out of hours.

“He was the person giving consent and we had to abide by his wishes. He said on the night in question he didn’t want to be disturbed. Over the years we have had many happy residents at the home.”

The CQC had not responded to the Herald at the time of going to press.