My battle for justice over mum’s nursing home neglect

I am writing to ask for advice, views and support in finding a just and moral outcome to a complaint I made regarding the abuse and neglect of my mother while she was in a nursing home in June and July 2012. The home is run by one of the UK’s leading independent providers of dementia, nursing and residential homes.

I have followed the prescribed complaints process for 17 months as follows:

I have complained to the provider.

They investigated the complaint and accepted they failed to provide basic nursing care by, among other things, failing to protect her from unnecessary pain, recognise or monitor signs of malnutrition, provide stimulation, follow care plans or maintain accurate records etc.

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They deny, however, that they withheld food and drinks for 24 hours, left her in bed for long periods without re-positioning her resulting in a pressure sore or that they failed to safeguard a vulnerable adult etc. This is despite the fact the PCT (who funded the placement) raised a safeguarding alert and advised mum be moved out of the home to keep her safe.

The provider failed to answer a number of elements of the complaint. These include, but are not limited to, acts of omission/commission carried out by registered nurses, including the managers, maladministration of medicines, malicious allegations made by staff about the family etc. No disciplinary action was taken. In fact, they have stated that, should similar incidents occur again, disciplinary action may be considered.

Outcome: addressed training needs, improved monitoring processes and made an offer of financial compensation. (Financial redress was not asked for. It is not the issue).

I have complained to the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

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Outcome: that the provider organisation had apologised for abusing and neglecting my mum, taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence and they had made a reasonable offer of financial compensation. No further action. I was advised it is open to me to seek a judicial review in the High Court if I disagreed with their decision.

I have complained to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Outcome: they carried out an inspection visit of the home but advised they would not report back to me as they do not investigate individual concerns, however, their website report of January 30th concludes all standards are being met.

As did their report of April 2012, two months before my mum’s admission. This report says such things as: “people are provided with safe and effective care” and the “home has robust procedures ... which help to protect people from abuse, neglect and exploitation”, as well as, “people’s medicines are managed by competent staff”. All these observations were proved inaccurate by the provider’s own internal investigation!

I was advised it is open to me to seek a judicial review in the High Court if I disagreed with their decision.

I have complained to my MP.

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Outcome: he told me it was nonsense that the CQC could not report to me regarding my complaint and said he would get them to do this. They have not. He advised I should give up my pursuit for justice, that no-one would be held accountable and I should let it go because, after all, my mum is safe now. He also suggested I take the compensation money offered and give it to charity.

I have complained to the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

Before making a referral I rang the NMC as I was unsure how to refer the nursing staff in the home who had carried out acts of omission/commission and breached their Code of Conduct. I was advised to refer the home manager and “the rest would follow”.

Outcome: six months later I have been told the home manager has no case to answer as there “was not sufficient evidence of personal failure on the part of Mrs X, nor indeed of the home itself”. No other nursing staff I identified as witnesses or perpetrators have been considered.

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I was advised it is open to me to seek a judicial review in the High Court if I disagreed with their decision.

I have complained to the then Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Outcome: they upheld my complaint that their safeguarding investigation and subsequent report was inadequate and inaccurate.

I have reported to the police.

Outcome: they were sympathetic and helpful and believed they would be contacted by one of the statutory bodies I have referred to. They advised I go back to them if this does not happen. It hasn’t, so I will.

Conclusion: I am frustrated these organisations appear to be saying it is OK to abuse and neglect a vulnerable person as long as your company apologises, promises they won’t do it again and pay hush money. My mum didn’t die from malnutrition because she has a family to keep her safe, but what about the other 119 people at that home? The same staff are “caring” for them. How do I get individuals and the provider organisation held to account for their actions? Civil action and judicial reviews are options but given the responses I have had so far from the regulatory bodies my confidence in due process is dwindling, almost expired actually, and I can’t afford to risk my family’s financial security.

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