Gravesend man blames lack of social care for his mother’s death

THE son of a frail pensioner with two types of cancer has slammed social services after she fell over in the middle of the night and died alone.

Elizabeth Devine, 75, had been diagnosed with lung and liver cancer after being admitted to Darent Valley Hospital a month ago.

The mum-of-six was released to her home in New Road, Meopham on May 19, where social services agreed to provide just one hour of care per day.

But her son Stephen Devine, 46, asked social services to reassess the level of care his mother received, saying she was “an accident waiting to happen”.

The team agreed to add only half an hour to Mrs Devine’s daily care, but she died on Saturday (June 4) after breaking her hip as she walked to the toilet.

Mr Devine, of Chichester Road, Gravesend, said: “It is just all about funding. But where they are saving money on one side they are putting lives at risk on another.

“I picked her up from the hospital and she was in a wheelchair and once inside she had to go straight into bed.

“I was with her constantly – I was with her every day. But she only had half an hour of care a morning and half an hour of care an evening.

“After about a week I asked for a reassessment because it wasn’t enough. She was on 20 tablets a day and liquid morphine and was all over the place. Yet they ended up giving her just one-and-a-half hours.

“On Saturday at 4.30am she got up half way to the corridor, slipped over and fractured her hip. The ambulance came at 6 o’clock in the morning and she had to have surgery. She passed just after 8pm.”

Mr Devine says social services should have done more for his mum, adding: “I blame social services – I didn’t think it was adequate care. She’s only 5’1 and 8 stone and taking 20 tablets a day.

“But they said ‘she’s ok’. It’s more just about ticking boxes these days.”

Mr Devine said Elizabeth, who was a dinner lady at Holy Cross School in Catford for 20 years, was a loving and caring mother.

He added: “She looked after my sister for 22 years who had multiple sclerosis. She was the most caring, loving person you could wish for. She was kind, generous and always put others before herself.”

A spokesman for KCC adult social services said: “Family concerns are always very important to Kent County Council. Any situation where family members are unhappy is taken very seriously and will always follow up thoroughly on any formal complaint.”