Care workers tell inquest of residents being humiliated and subjected to appalling levels of care

Staff at a scandal-hit nursing home have told an inquest how elderly residents were humiliated and suffered poor standards of care.

Seven residents who lived at Brithdir nursing home in New Tredegar, South Wales, died between 2003 and 2005.

Some suffered from dehydration, malnourishment and pressure sores.

An inquest in Newport, Gwent, is hearing evidence on the deaths of Stanley James, 89, June Hamer, 71, Stanley Bradford, 76, Evelyn Jones, 87, and William Hickman, 71.

One former staff member told the hearing she saw a care worker draw a moustache with a permanent marker on the face of a female resident.

She also witnessed an elderly man naked from the waist down being changed in a day lounge in front of other residents.

Other staff said the home, which closed in 2006, lacked basic equipment, with workers having to supply their own gloves and sanitiser, and staff would sleep on duty.

The inquest heard how some care staff falsified records to show residents had been given food and drink and bathed.

Maria Rogers, a registered mental nurse, said she was unhappy with the quality of care she saw at Brithdir, blaming “lazy” staff.

“I recall on one occasion four of the larger male residents were smelling from bad body odours. It was quite clear they had not been bathed,” she said in a written statement.

“I raised the issue with the carers and they tried to tell me they had been bathed. They also made some false entries in the records to show they had been bathed.

“I would frequently question why certain matters, such as residents being unwell, had not been acted upon.

“I would be told by the care assistants they had told the qualified staff who had done nothing.”

Ms Rogers, who worked casual shifts at Brithdir, added: “The standard of care was appalling. I recall an incident where a care assistant had used a permanent black marker to draw a moustache on the face of a female resident.

“I recall a care assistant putting a dressing on a resident’s hip without removing the wrappings off the dressing.

“One of the worst incidents I observed at Brithdir was when I observed a patient standing on a hoist in the day room, naked from the waist down, being changed, removing a wet pad and giving him a new dry pad.

“The day room was full of other residents and staff. I was appalled and could not believe the total lack of dignity afforded to that resident.

“The carers told me that because the residents were suffering from dementia they wouldn’t mind being changed in this manner.”

Other staff told the inquest they saw residents who had food and fluids withheld being given medication orally.

Care worker Michelle Harley said the nursing home did not have the equipment to move residents and there were too few pressure mattresses.

“The hoists never worked properly and the batteries were never charged properly and were always cutting out,” she said.

She said she had to supply her own gloves and sanitiser.

“There was a constant lack of incontinence pads. Upstairs we were always having to go downstairs and take them from other residents,” she said.

“There were never any red MRSA bags used for the disposal of soiled pads. Neither were there washing bags and we had to use normal bin bags.

“There was a lack of wheelchairs and I was aware each resident should have individual wheelchairs to avoid MRSA. This was not the case and many wheelchairs were broken, so residents shared.

“We also used the wheelchairs of persons who had died.”

Experienced care worker Sian Parsons worked five shifts at Brithdir before being made redundant.

“My concerns at Brithdir were that staff would sleep on nights. This resulted in residents who needed turning every two hours not being turned,” she said.

“Residents who needed a pad changed were not changed due to staff sleeping and often replacement pads were not available.

“Another issue that caused me concern were the records, turn charts and fluid charts were falsified.

“I had seen the charts being completed as done when I knew in fact residents had not been attended to for turning or given fluids.”

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