Dying without dignity: Agnes’ time at Ravens Court

A GRIEVING daughter and gran-daughter have slammed the under-fire Ravens Court Care Centre for leaving their once-proud relative to die stripped of all dignity.

With only days left to live, 89-year-old Harthill pensioner Agnes Hume squirmed in agony, painfully malnourished, devoid of her teeth, glasses and – in the opinion of her family – the level of care she needed to maintain some semblance of the class and beauty she had throughout her life.

Last week we revealed the catalogue of failings at Ravens Court, highlighted in the Social Care and Social Work Improvement organisation’s (SCSWIS) annual inspection report for the centre.

The centre – which specialises in care for elderly patients with dementia – was rated “weak” for quality of care and support, the second lowest of six quality assessment grades.

This week, in an emotional interview, Agnes’ daughter Yvonne and grand-daughter Lindsay blasted the quality of care at the centre as “disgraceful”.

Said Yvonne: “My mum was transferred to Ravens Court from Herbison House in Shotts because she needed nursing care rather than just general care because her dementia had gotten worse.

“I did quite a bit of research on care home and Ravens Court looked absolutely spot on. The people could not have been nicer. They showed me around and I didn’t even have an appointment. That impressed me, as I felt if they had anything to hide then they wouldn’t show me, they’d tell me to come back – so I picked it.

“My mother went in weighing 55 kilos – which isn’t a lot – and within a matter of months she was down to 39 kilos. She hadn’t been put under a dietician.

“One day I arrived and she had no teeth. I asked the staff: ‘Where are her teeth?’ They told me she threw them away. I asked them why she would throw away her teeth and why wasn’t anyone able to find them? They then said they didn’t actually know when she’d thrown them away but knew that she definitely had. If they didn’t see her throw them away then how could they know that she did? Why would she do that? They just told me it was a level of dementia. She had no teeth from that point. Besides that, she was still given chicken nuggets and chips to eat. That was the start of her decline.

“I usually sat in the lounge with her, but on this one particular day I wanted it to be just her and I sitting privately in her bedroom. The bedroom doors were always locked because the staff said that people would walk about and go into other people’s rooms, so they unlocked the door for me. I went in and within two minutes I had to come back out because of the smell of urine – it was actually stinging my eyes. I’ve never known anything like that.

“I complained and I was told basically that mum was incontinent and sometimes she piddled on the floor. They never contacted me about this, never mentioned it once.

“I almost went mental that day. I told them I don’t mind if she piddles all night on the floor, that’s not the issue. The issue is that the carpet needs to be either lifted or at least cleaned. Their attitude was basically ‘Well, that’s what happens, there’s nothing we can do about it’. I just couldn’t believe it.

“My mother had fallen and they’d taken her to Wishaw General. A doctor there asked me if she fell a lot. I said not that I know of. He then told me there were 41 bruises on her body. I know you can bruise an old person easily even by lifting them out a chair, but these bruises were everywhere.

“I went back to the home and told them how concerned I was that I didn’t know about all these bruises and the fact that in the notes it says very specifically if there are any accidents, falls or misadventures then I’ve got to be told about it. I told them the fact they didn’t tell me about these falls made me feel like something sinister was going on and they were covering it up. ‘No,’ they told me, ‘it’s just that the night staff don’t fill it in on the chart if she gets up and falls out of bed during the night’. I couldn’t get an explanation.

“One time I went up to see her she had a black eye and had split her head open. I was given two conflicting stories about what happened, one of which suggested my mum had climbed out and back into her bed, which was impossible. She could barely walk.

“Up until my mother was well into her 70s, I did her hair and nails every Saturday – she was immaculate all the time. She would have been horrified with how she’d turned out. She could do nothing for herself. She was a beautiful woman inside and out, so strong, and would just have been mortified.

“In the home she had became dishevelled, dirty, smelly; her clothes were mismatched – sometimes she was wearing clothes that belonged to other people.

“There was an investigation and the care commission upheld all of my complaints after making four unannounced visits themselves where they found her walking about on her own. They found her walking aimlessly with no glasses. Anyone trained to care for these people would know that these are not things that should be happening.”

WHEN asked to comment, a spokesperson for Southern Cross requested we use the quote the group provided for last week’s story again, which read: “The health and well-being of our residents is our number one priority. We work hard to improve and sustain care delivery at the home and work in partnership with the local authorities, residents and SCSWIS to ensure the quality of care at Ravens Court care centre is in line with expectations.”