Grandmother died in agony from infected pressure sores at scandal-hit care home, inquest hears

A grandmother died in agony after suffering huge pressure sores at a scandal-hit nursing home, an inquest has heard.

Evelyn Jones, 87, developed sores across her lower back, described by hospital staff as “the worst they had seen” and by care workers as smelling like a “dead cat”.

The dementia sufferer died in hospital in November 2005 after staying at the Brithdir home in New Tredegar, South Wales.

An inquest in Newport (pictured), Gwent, is hearing evidence into the deaths of seven residents of the home between 2003 and 2005, some of whom suffered dehydration, malnourishment and pressure sores.

The hearing heard Mrs Jones was admitted to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr with a urinary tract infection, and medical staff discovered the extent of her wounds.

Mrs Jones’s daughter, Marina Walters, said she was unaware of the pressure sores until her mother went into hospital.

“The day following my mother’s admission to the Prince Charles Hospital my daughter Ruth attended the hospital to see her grandmother,” she said in a statement.

“Upon arrival she was informed by staff on the ward that my mother had very bad bed sores – the worst they had ever seen.

“They had taken photographs and as a result of them being so bad the hospital had contacted social services and the police.”

Mrs Walters said she never saw any dressings or creams in her mother’s bedroom at Brithdir and she had an “ordinary” mattress on her bed.

When she confronted staff about it afterwards, they said they were aware of “two little marks” on her mother.

“When visiting I would see her sitting in the lounge and she would be sat in an uncomfortable position, propped up with cushions,” she said.

“She always looked uncomfortable within her chair and when I tried to sit her up in the chair she would cry out, saying, ‘No, no, no, no’.

“Her eyes were open wide as if she was in fear and her legs would tremble uncontrollably.

“Even 15 years later the memories of her still bring laughter to us, yet bring tears to our eyes when we think of the way she spent her last hours on Earth alone in a room by herself.

“She was suffering from great pain due to two huge individual pressure sores on her back with an infection ducting deep into her bowel.”

Mrs Jones’s granddaughter, Ruth Phillips, said she was shocked by the pressure sores.

“When the nurse left I looked at nan’s lower back and I could see a white dressing covering the centre of her lower back,” she said.

“I could also see one other mark on the lower left side of her back. The dressing was temporary and I lifted it and was shocked by what I saw.

“Under the dressing was two sores. The worse one being at the base of the spine. This sore had an open wound about the size of a five pence piece. Within this wound I could see what I thought was bone with yellow fluid around it.”

Medical records showed that when Mrs Jones was admitted to hospital the pressure sores covered an area 18cm by 14cm, but shortly before her death had increased to 50cm by 20cm.

A pathologist found she died from sepsis due to infected pressure sores, as well as from immobility and dehydration.

The inquest also heard evidence from Brithdir care staff who looked after Mrs Jones after she moved to the nursing home in August 2005.

Sandra Rutter said she did not see Mrs Jones’s pressure sores when she washed and changed her because they were covered by dressings.

She described walking into the room shortly before she was admitted to hospital and noticing the smell.

“In entering the room the first thing I noticed was the terrible smell. I can only describe it being a rotting smell or a dead cat,” she said.

“I then saw the pressure sore was the size of a 50p coin and looked to be as deep as the length of my thumb.

“It was black and green in colour and looked absolutely terrible.

“I asked the nurse how it got to be like that and all I was told it was being treated by someone called Godfrey who was someone who dealt with bed sores.”

The inquest is also looking at the deaths of Stanley James, 89, June Hamer, 71, Stanley Bradford, 76, Edith Evans, 85, and William Hickman, 71.

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

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