‘Swansea Carers Failed May’

The family of a Skewen pensioner have complained about the way she was cared for by some council staff while living in sheltered accommodation.

Great-grandmother May James, who spent 40 years at Cartref Flats in the village, died aged 101 in June.

Her family praised the warden who manages the complex, as well as a couple of her home carers, but claimed some of the others who were assigned to look after her failed in their duties. They said they had waited until Mrs James’s death before speaking out, so as not to upset her or see her labelled a troublemaker.

Grand-daughter Norma Davies, of Somerset Place, Swansea, said: “We feel the treatment of my granny was unacceptable.

She claimed: “On occasion, some of the carers didn’t shower her and she was left lying in her own urine. I could smell it as soon as I walked through the door.

“We believe it made her urinary tract infections worse.

“We made complaints and things did improve, but it seemed like a constant battle. Granny didn’t want to make a big fuss, but one day she asked me to help her – it took so much courage for her to do that.”

Miss Davies, aged 55, and her sister Linda, aged 53, claimed on occasion carers left out-of-date food in the fridge, failed to wear protective clothing and left Mrs James’s lifeline out of her reach.

In 2007, she was taken ill and the family moved her to Swn-y-Gan nursing home in Penclawdd, where she recovered to celebrate her 100th birthday with family and friends.

Miss Davies said: “We felt we had to move her from the complex. This was an old woman who the family believe was suffering. The whole thing put a huge strain on the family, who just wanted the best for her.

“Granny was lucky – she had family to stand up for her, but what about people without family?

“I would urge people to speak out if there is a problem – keeping quiet doesn’t solve anything.”

However, Miss Davies did pay tribute to some of those involved in her grandmother’s care in a thanks for sympathy notice in the Evening Post.

She added: “The warden-manager at Cartref Flats went out of her way to help granny, and I would like to thank her for that.”

Mrs James, who lost her only daughter Glenys 10 years ago, left behind four grandchildren and six great-children. Anthony Clements, head of community care services for Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “We understand that this must be an extremely difficult time for Mrs James’s family and would like to extend our sincere condolences to them. However, we strongly refute any allegations of neglect.

“We were contacted more than 15 months ago by Mrs James’s family about some issues concerning her care and well-being. Our understanding is that these were quickly resolved to everyone’s satisfaction at the time.

“Not all of the issues as reported in this story were related to services provided by the council.

“We would like to thank Mrs James’s family for the kind words of appreciation for the home care service in their Evening Post notice.

“Naturally, we are concerned that this has been raised with the Evening Post after such a long passage of time and we will look to contact the family to explore whether there are still any unresolved issues with the council.”