Elderly lady not neglected, inquest hears

AN ELDERLY lady who became weak and suffered from a major internal bleed was not a victim of neglect at her Eastbourne nursing home, an inquest has heard.

Nora Smith, 83, died at Eastbourne DGH on October 21, 2011 after being rushed in by ambulance from Coppice Court in Willingdon Road.

The coroner Kate Palmer heard Mrs Smith was staying at the Bupa home after becoming difficult with her food and becoming frail as a result.

Although weak, Mrs Smith was not suffering with dementia and had signed a do not resuscitate form a few days before her death.

However, the nursing home did not have the correct copy of the form and when she became ill at the nursing home, staff called an ambulance.

The paramedics who attended on the day later alerted the authorities as they were concerned about neglect. They said they felt Mrs Smith looked undernourished and they found her uncovered on the floor when they arrived.

The paramedics also had to wait outside Coppice Court for 12 minutes before they could attract the attention of the chef to unlock the doors.

However, the inquest heard the emergency call centre had told nurse Nirmala Simkhada to put Mrs Smith on the floor and she felt the room was warm enough for her not to need a cover. Mrs Smith’s 86-year-old husband Albert Smith also explained she had been difficult with her food for some time. He said she had lost weight after refusing to eat nothing but Maltesers, ice cream or semolina.

Mrs Palmer said, “Correct procedures were followed by the nurse because the right form wasn’t there. She was acting in Nora’s best interests.

“I have reservations about the judgement that was made to put her on the floor. The nurse should have used her own knowledge and skills.

“However, she did act within accordance of what the ambulance service told her and it was an emergency situation.”

Mrs Palmer explained the paramedics were right to raise their ‘grave concern’ but that there was no gross negligence from Coppice Court.

She recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.