Hospital staff ‘shocked’ at condition of elderly nursing home resident – inquest

Dementia sufferer Edith Evans, 85, was suffering from MRSA and an infection to a feeding tube to her stomach, an inquest heard.

Edith Evans
Edith Evans

An elderly woman was left so poorly neglected by nursing home staff that hospital workers were left shocked by her condition, an inquest has heard.

Dementia sufferer Edith Evans, 85, was suffering from MRSA and an infection to a feeding tube to her stomach.

She was admitted to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr, South Wales, in September 2005 from the Brithdir nursing home in New Tredegar, and died two weeks later.

An inquest in Newport, Gwent, is hearing evidence into the deaths of seven residents of the care home between 2003 and 2005, some of whom suffered from dehydration, malnourishment and pressure sores.

Edith Evans moved into residential care following the death of her husband Morris (Family handout/PA).
Edith Evans moved into residential care following the death of her husband Morris (Family handout/PA)

A&E nurse Rachel Pulman said Mrs Evans was brought by ambulance and was not accompanied by anyone from the nursing home.

“On arrival I saw the elderly lady appeared to be suffering from a form of dementia and she was very agitated,” she told the hearing.

“Her general condition I would describe as poor. She looked unclean, her hair was matted and unkempt.

“She was dirty from faeces and in my opinion she had been in this condition for some considerable time.”

She added: “I was quite shocked at her appearance and the way she was left at the care home to come to A&E without anybody with her.”

Mrs Pulman said she was asked to contact the nursing home to find out why she had not been accompanied to the hospital and was sent without medical records.

The inquest heard she spoke to the home’s nurse-matron Philip McCaffrey about the widow.

“I felt that during the conversation, Mr McCaffrey was rude and unco-operative. He didn’t appear to care what was happening and appeared not to be interested,” she said.

Gail Morris, Mrs Evans’s niece, told the hearing her aunt had moved into a care home shortly after the death of her husband but later moved to Brithdir as her dementia worsened.

Due to problems with swallowing, Mrs Evans was fitted with a peg feed system in which she was fed through a tube into her stomach.

“Her health deteriorated to the point of not being able to walk, talk, or feed herself,” she said.

“Edie was taken to hospital from Brithdir on the September 16 2005, where she died on September 30, suffering a very painful and distressing death.”

Mrs Evans and her husband Morris enjoyed holidays across the UK and abroad during their lengthy marriage (family handout/PA).
Mrs Evans and her husband Morris enjoyed holidays across the UK and abroad during their lengthy marriage (Family handout/PA)

A pathologist found Mrs Evans died from sepsis that developed from the peg site – an infection which had been present “seven weeks before admission to hospital”.

Assistant coroner Geraint Williams questioned Caerphilly County Borough Council social worker Ceri Goodwin about concerns about staffing levels and standards of care at Brithdir.

“Had we been consulted and briefed and had that clear-cut investigative approach, then issues would have been raised,” she said.

“We would have more confidence in our ability to challenge staff and to look for things in the context of their paperwork and the general approach to care.”

During a review of Mrs Evans’s care in November 2004, her niece raised concerns with Mrs Goodwin about the peg’s cleanliness, her aunt’s lack of stimulation and a high turnover of staff at the home.

Mr Williams asked Mrs Goodwin: “As a professional social worker, those are all alarm bells surely? On that basis you must have known that you had to delve significantly into the care issues for this lady?”

She replied: “Yes.”

And asked to explain her answer, she said: “Not to the best of my ability, no.”

Brithdir was closed in 2006, with its owner, Dr Prana Das, suffering a brain injury in 2012 which meant he never stood trial for alleged failings in care, before he died in January last year aged 73.

The inquest, set to last until March, is also looking at the deaths of former Brithdir residents Stanley James, 89, June Hamer, 71, Stanley Bradford, 76, Evelyn Jones, 87, and William Hickman, 71.

A hearing into the death of a seventh resident, Matthew Higgins, 86, will be held following the conclusion of the other six.

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