Expert Lawyers Request Inquest To Investigate Death Of Former Holmwood House Patient

‘I Owe It To My Mum To Get Answers’, Says Heartbroken Daughter


Expert lawyers investigating the death of a woman who received treatment from a nurse at a Bristol care home who is being investigated over allegations of abuse have called for an inquest to be held into the pensioner’s death to investigate the care she was given.

Serious injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office are representing Annette Whiting, the daughter of Kathleen Cole, who died in August last year after being under the care of Holmwood House Nursing Home in Westbury-On-Trym for five years.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now written to HM Coroner for Avon, Maria Voisin, requesting an inquest is held into the 77-year-old’s death, as they believe the results of a number of internal investigations into standards at the home and Mrs Cole’s care require further inquiry.

Her cause of death was initially recorded as being from natural causes but a post-mortem carried out before she was cremated resulted in the cause of death being altered to pneumonia.

Lawyers have seen notes taken during an internal meeting after Mrs Cole’s death which revealed issues with nutrition and hydration, manual handling, skin care and management, administration of medication, failures to manage a pressure sore and a failure to diagnose pneumonia prior to her transfer to Westbury Nursing Home from Holmwood House.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the BBC in January found there have been eight substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect at Holmwood House in the last two years.

Jonathan Peacock, Regional Managing Partner and specialist abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office is representing Annette.

Expert Opinion
We have reviewed a number of investigations into the care Mrs Cole received and believe factors included inadequate training, qualifications, management and supervision need exploring further.

“We are calling on the Coroner on behalf of Annette to hold an inquest into Mrs Cole’s death as she would like answers about whether more could have been done to prevent her mother’s suffering and subsequent death.

“We also have questions about how many other patients may have been affected and we believe an inquest would assist in gaining answers about this.”
Jonathan Peacock, Partner

Holmwood House stopped admitting patients with nursing needs under what was described as a "voluntary" arrangement. It followed a risk assessment by the council and a suspension of all admissions from June until August last year.

Among Annette’s concerns are that her mother was given an enema which she believes was unnecessary and left her mother distressed. The nurse, Cicily Joseph, was found guilty of assault - a verdict later overturned on appeal.  She resigned from Holmwood after being suspended.

However, a council investigation upheld an allegation of abuse and Ms Joseph remains under investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Annette, 54, from Seamills, said: “My mum deserved to be treated with dignity and respect and I thought she was in the safest place possible at Holmwood House with people who were used to providing her specific care needs.

“I feel that I now owe it to my mum to get answers about her care and I believe an inquest is the only way to do this. I am also worried about other residents’ treatment and would like to know that everything possible is being done by the home to improve the failures identified by the CQC.”


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to abuse and neglect claims