Inquest into the deaths of six care home residents hears evidence of ‘general neglect’

Several residents of a care home died after suffering from alleged neglect including dehydration, malnourishment, and pressure sores on their bodies, an inquest has been told.

The hearing, set to last until March, follows a major police investigation into alleged failings at a number of care facilities including Brithdir Nursing Home in New Tredegar, South Wales, where they found evidence of “general neglect”.

On Monday, Assistant Coroner for Gwent Geraint Williams opened the inquest into the deaths of six former residents which took place between 2003 and 2005.

They include Stanley James, 89, June Hamer, 71, Stanley Bradford, 76, Edith Evans, 85, Evelyn Jones, 87, and William Hickman, 71.

Mr Williams told the inquest in Newport that Gwent Police’s investigation was launched in 2005 following the death of an 84-year-old “mentally infirm” woman at another care home in Newbridge, which led to officers uncovering a “pattern of concerns linked to other deaths in other care homes”.

In relation to Brithdir, Mr Williams said: “Operation Jasmine uncovered evidence suggesting poor care of residents, including allegations of poor pressure sore and peg (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) feed management, malnourishment, and general neglect of the residents’ long-term needs, together with deficient standards of care and nursing practice.”

The inquest heard that resident Mr James, who had a history of dementia and was unable to mobilise, was found to have developed several pressure sores on his buttocks and one on his heel in the 18 months before his death in August 2003.

Mr Bradford, who suffered from schizophrenia, was admitted to the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil on several occasions for complaints of “dehydration, chest and urine infections”, and before he died in August 2005 was “observed to be seriously malnourished” by doctors.

Dementia patient Mrs Evans was admitted to the same hospital in September 2005, where nurses found the site around her feeding tube “infected”, while broken skin was found on her buttocks and she appeared “unkempt and dirty, and her mouth and lips were dry and her tongue was thick”.

Dr Prana Das, who owned and ran the nursing home along with several other facilities in Wales, faced a string of charges relating to failings in care before he suffered a brain injury during a burglary at his home in 2012 and was declared medically unfit to stand trial.

Dr Das died in January last year aged 73, but his widow and co-owner of the home, Dr Nishebita Das, who is said not to have taken part in running it, is expected to give evidence at the inquest.

Mr Williams told the hearing that, even before the couple purchased the home in April 2002 under their company Puretruce Health Care Limited, “serious concerns” were raised by state agencies regarding the number of residents who had suffered pressure ulcers.

“Those issues continued, even after Dr Das assumed ownership of the home,” the coroner said.

Mr Williams said the inquest will consider the actions of nurses and carers at the home, “many of whom came to this country from abroad to work and have since returned there, and are now not available to participate in the inquest”.

A hearing into the death of a seventh resident, Matthew Higgins, 86, will be held following the conclusion of the other six.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Google Maps.