Daughter Speaks Of Fears That ‘Horrific’ Failings Could Be Repeated

Inquest Into Deaths Of Orchid View Residents Concludes

18.10.2013

The daughter of a pensioner who died after being over-administered a blood thinning drug whilst staying at a Sussex nursing home has spoken of her anger that ‘horrific’ standards went undetected for so long, along with her concerns that improvements must be made to stop the same failings being repeated.

Linzi Collings, daughter of Jean Halfpenny, said nothing could have prepared her for the ‘shocking’ evidence she heard about care standards at Orchid View Care Home where her mum was a resident from November 2009 until her death in May 2010 aged 77.

Following a five-week inquest into the deaths of Jean and 18 other residents at the home from 2010 to 2012, Coroner Penelope Schofield, today (DATE) said Jean died from natural causes attributed by neglect.

The Coroner said Orchid View Care Home had ‘institutionalised abuse from a very early stage’.

Linzi, from Dunstable in Bedfordshire, said: “Whilst my sister and I are pleased with the thoroughness of the inquest and we are grateful to the Coroner for investigating, the horrific details that have emerged about Orchid View are beyond comprehension.

“How the corporate failings of Southern Cross could create these events and how such terrible standards could go unnoticed by the authorities for so long has left us baffled. In this day and age you expect measures to be in place to protect vulnerable members of society from being subjected to such horrendously poor care.

“Our mum deserved to be treated with dignity and compassion but Orchid View failed to provide her with even a basic level of care, despite being paid a significant amount of money to do so.

“We believe dramatic changes are needed to the current care system, starting firstly with greater accountability for care home owners if they are found to be making unnecessary mistakes and offering substandard services.”

Linzi added: “Southern Cross has closed down and no one has been prosecuted for the catalogue of errors at the home so other care homes and providers across the UK have nothing to fear by not meeting targets and Care Quality Commission standards.

“Whilst the inquest has provided some answers, we will not be able to move forward until we know measures have been put in place to protect elderly and vulnerable people and prevent the same catalogue of errors being repeated. If this inquest hasn’t been the wake-up call the industry desperately needs, I dread to think how bad things could get.

“We would welcome the criminal case being referred back to the CPS as we still have unanswered questions as to who was responsible for the over-administration of Warfarin and the subsequent events leading up to our Mum's death.”

Linzi, along with the families of six other Orchid View residents, instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances surrounding their loved ones deaths.

Ian Christian, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s London office working on behalf of families, said: “We believe urgent action is needed to enforce stricter regulation on those who take responsibility for caring for the elderly and vulnerable. The management void within Southern Cross was shocking and how that wasn’t picked up by those charged with safeguarding the residents of Orchid View is something that can not be allowed to happen again.

“Homes cannot be allowed to get to crisis point and for lives to be lost because of failings. This inquest needs to prompt an improvement in accountability to show others in the profession that poor care and taking away people’s dignity will not be tolerated by our society. .

“Nothing can bring back loved ones to the families we represent, and whilst the details of the failings that have been uncovered have been very upsetting, the thoroughness of the inquest has provided them with much-needed answers and we will continue to support them in seeking justice for their devastating loss.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Medical Negligence claims.