Family And Legal Team Call For Lessons To Be Learned
A family are calling for lessons to be learned after winning their four-year legal battle following the death of a care home resident with dementia.
Christine Vaughan was neglected and, in the days before her death, developed an acute kidney infection, an inquest concluded.
Before the mum-of-two’s death in Giltbrook Care Home near Nottingham, her family had complained to the home about Christine’s care and how she was losing a lot of weight.
Medical negligence lawyers asked to help after Nottingham care home death
After Christine died aged 73 in March 2017, her relatives, including husband Alvin, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help secure them answers.
In December 2019 an inquest jury concluded Christine’s death amounted to neglect. Following a separate safeguarding investigation, Nottinghamshire County Council temporarily suspended the home’s contract to operate. Police also launched a criminal investigation into Christine’s death but it was ruled no further action be taken.
Lawyers secure settlement following Christine Vaughan's death
Christine’s family brought a separate civil case against Giltbrook Care Homes Ltd, which runs the home where Christine was a resident.
After the company failed to respond the case was brought before the county court. After the company again did not respond to legal submissions the court entered judgment against Giltbrook Care Homes Ltd, ruling it was responsible for Christine’s death.
The company has now agreed an out of court settlement with the family.
Expert Opinion“Christine was a much-loved wife and mum with Alvin visiting her every day when she was a resident at the care home.
“During regular visits the family firmly believe they saw Christine’s condition deteriorate before them. However, despite raising concerns nothing was done to address these.
“For many months after the inquest and despite its findings, the care home company failed to work with the family to resolve their concerns. This conduct just added to the hurt and distress Alvin and the rest of the family have had to endure.
“While nothing can ever make up for their loss we’re pleased to have resolved this case and have been able to secure the answers Christine’s family deserved, providing them with some form of closure.
“People in care homes are some of society’s most vulnerable people and it’s now vital that lessons are learned to improve patient care.” Tania Harrison - Senior Associate Solicitor
Family tribute to loving mum who died after care home neglect
Michael said: “Mum was the most wonderful, caring and loving mum you could ever wish for. She doted on her family and was never happier than when spending time with us.
“Dementia is a dreadful disease. It was hard enough to see how mum wasn’t the same person because of her condition without having to then try and contend with the poor care she was receiving.
“All the way through this we feel that we’ve had to fight the care home operator for answers and to acknowledge our concerns.
“The last four years and attempting to come to terms with what happened to her has been hard enough. We felt guilty that we were unable to get mum out of the home so she could receive the best possible care she deserved. However, that guilt turned to anger and frustration at how our family was being treated.
Christine Vaughan's family want lessons to be learned
“Mum wasn’t a statistic on a spreadsheet but a loyal and hardworking person who died because she wasn’t cared for with the dignity she deserved. We know nothing can bring her back but we feel the care home company should have treated us with respect and not just ignored us thinking we would go away.
“We now just hope that what happened to mum doesn’t happen to others.”
Medical negligence: Christine's story
Christine, a former East Midlands Airport Worker, was diagnosed with senile dementia in 2003 and had been cared for by her Alvin, her husband of 54 years.
She became a resident of Giltbrook Care Home in March 2016 after suffering extensive fractures in a fall at home near Eastwood.
An inquest in December 2019 was told that between November 2016 and March 2017 Christine’s weight had significantly fallen.
In early 2017 Michael became concerned about the health of his mum who suffered from water infections. He had noted that she had lost weight and was regularly wet, wearing soaked incontinence pads.
During a visit to Christine on Mother’s Day 2017 her family found Christine dirty, dishevelled and hanging out of bed," the inquest was told.
She died two days later on 28 March, 2017, as a result of the kidney infection pyelonephritis and cystitis.
Investigations into Nottingham care home death
Following Christine’s death Nottinghamshire County Council launched a safeguarding investigation following concerns by the family and a whistle-blower who worked at the home.
The investigation found that nutrition and fluid charts were often inconsistently completed. In March 2017 a number of daily charts were missing, with charts only fully completed on four days that month. No evidence was found that Christine had been fed on 22 March.
Christine’s weight had been incorrectly calculated to show she was at a healthy weight when she was under weight.
The investigations also found that there was ‘long periods of no recording’ during March 2017 on charts meant to record incontinence and re-positioning care to reduce the risk of pressure sores.
The investigation concluded that “on the balance of probabilities it is evident that the care home have been neglectful in providing appropriate care to Mrs Vaughan.”
However, investigators were unable to establish if the neglect caused her death.
Recommendations to improve care
The county council made a number of recommendations including the home employed more staff and new charts for recording care were completed and staff underwent training to be able to complete forms. Staff were to also receive training to deal with administering medication and helping incontinent residents.
Regulator the Care Quality Commission rated the home as inadequate following an inspection in April 2017. The CQC has since rated the home as good, according to the inspection report published in November 2019.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families following incidents in care at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.