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British woman severly neglected

Published on May 23rd, 2009

The British newspaper The Mirror had a shocking story about an elderly woman tragically abused and neglected.  She was found bed-bound, underfed, dehydrated and covered in ulcers.  She died after she was so badly neglected in a nursing home that horrific open wounds covered most of her body.

Gwendoline Hoar had painful pressure ulcers on her back, hips and feet.   She was in dreadful pain but managers at the private home refused to give her pain relief until the final two days of her life.  Two docotrs who visited Mrs Hoar and failed to help her have refused to co-operate with the coroner.

Two years after she died – no one has been arrested over her death.  Gwen’s family now want a full inquiry. Son-in-law Gavin Langley said: "What happened was avoidable and dreadful. Someone has to be held to account. It’s horrifying."

Gwen lived at home until the death of second husband Stan in 2004. He had been her teen sweetheart and they wed after first husband Cyril died. Gavin said: "They had 25 blissful, happy years. It was idyllic."

When Gwen developed dementia devoted Stan cared for her at home until his death. She went into one nursing home where she was well looked-after, but her condition got worse and she had to move to River Court. Both homes were paid for from savings.

Within four months of entering River Court she was close to death. After concerns were raised about the home, BUPA sent in skin expert Ann Moore, told the inquest into Mrs Hoar’s death: "I found a frail little lady in her room who appeared quite undernourished.  She was very dehydrated. I could see she hadn’t been turned frequently. In fact she hadn’t been turned at all, according to the documentation."   Ms Moore found more wounds than listed in the notes. Some had dressings but others were open to infection. A specialist mattress to relieve sores had not been fitted properly so was of no benefit.

It was another month – and only after a visit from inspectors – before the local health trust was called in. Two district nurses who examined Gwen were shocked by her condition, which had got even worse. One said there were too many sores to list.   Some were found to be Grade 4 – the most serious – with skin and tissue split down to the bone. But instead of sending her to hospital doctors took the advice of a BUPA nurse that Gwen should be treated in the home.

The inquest heard that when they were urged to provide 24-hour pain relief for Gwen, managers "resisted" installing the equipment until two days before she died. A post-mortem found the sores were so painful they stopped Gwen moving, which led to pneumonia.

Coroner Graham Danbury said the care provided at the home was "seriously disturbing". 

Daniel Blake of Action on Elder Abuse said it was "a disgrace" no one had been held to account.

 

Joe Pioletti
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