Investigation criticises nursing home treatment

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A FRAIL 91-year-old woman was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia in an Eastbourne nursing home in the lead-up to her death, according to a report.

An independent panel found the woman had received ‘passive and delayed’ treatment at Manor Hall nursing home (pictured) in Old Town before she died in hospital days later.

An investigation was launched when a number of health bodies feared abuse or neglect could have been a factor in the pensioner’s death. Nursing home staff’s professional judgement was called into question, among a catalogue of other concerns.

“There are concerns about professional judgements, sufficient observation, medical assessment, lack of earlier medical intervention to potentially avert the need for emergency services, delays in calling for emergency services, and nursing attention to patients when calling emergency services,” the report said.

Although an initial report found there was no neglect, a review by East Sussex Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults board - including representatives from the County Council, South East Coast Ambulance Service and health officials – criticised aspects of treatment at the nursing home.

It said Manor Hall refused to assist the investigation, despite repeated requests.

Chairman of South Coast Nursing Homes Patrick Colville, who is responsible for Manor Hall, said media reports accusing the home of negligence had blown the incident out of proportion.

“The matter had been dealt with. We were advised of a few minor issues which we addressed and later on they started another procedure which we weren’t sure of and declined to get involved with,” said Mr Colville.

He added, “This lady had a record of hypothermia and she didn’t take on water because she wouldn’t. This all came out in the first report.

“I believe the county council is putting us in an invidious position.”

When the 91-year-old’s son went to visit her in Borough Lane on December 20, 2008 he found his mother unresponsive. It was only after he insisted on calling an ambulance that she was taken to hospital.

She died 12 days later at Eastbourne DGH on New Year’s Day 2009.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), downgraded the care home’s rating and asked for an improvement plan but Mr Colville claims it recently received a favourable report from the health industry watchdog.