Investigation launched at St Leonards nursing home

Violet Wright (centre) with great-niece Jade Major and brother George Major
Violet Wright (centre) with great-niece Jade Major and brother George Major

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched at a St Leonards nursing home after an elderly resident was rushed to hospital with severe dehydration.

Violet Wright, 76, who has learning disabilities, had been a resident at St Dominic’s Nursing Home, in Filsham Road, St Leonards, since May this year.

An unannounced visit from family members including her niece Janet Major, 42, and Janet’s daughter Jade, 24, on October 7, found Violet alone in her room. They say she was in an unnatural position in bed, disorientated, with dirty sheets, and with congealed food in and around her mouth.

Furious, Violet’s family insisted an ambulance was called, and Violet was rushed to the Conquest Hospital where she was treated for severe dehydration, and is still recovering almost a month later.

Janet, who lives in Surrey, as do the rest of Violet’s family, said: “It is shocking that this could happen. These people are meant to be carers.

“The hospital staff said she was so severely dehydrated that if she had been left any longer, she would have died.

“We want to raise awareness of what happened, as there may be other people who have nobody to speak up for them.”

Jade added: “I was furious, nobody was able to tell me what was going on, or what she had been given to eat or drink.”

A safeguarding investigation is now underway into the nursing home operated by Aster Healthcare.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “This will be a wide-reaching investigation examining a number of issues, including concerns raised by Miss Wright’s family, and we are liaising closely with the Care Quality Commission and our own quality monitoring team.

“We are also liaising with the owner of St Dominic’s to undertake the investigation as quickly as possible, but are mindful of the individual needs of the residents and of the need for discretion and sensitivity.”

Janet said that a call from the nursing home saying that Violet was not well had prompted the unannounced visit earlier this month: “When we went in, her bedroom door was shut and Violet was in bed. Her neck was in an awful position, and they said she had had a mini stroke, which is why she was leaning to one side. We tried to move her but were unable to do so.

“Her bed sheets were dirty, and she was disorientated and was not her usual self.

“I have never seen her like that before. Usually, whenever we go in to see my aunt she smiles, but she was lifeless and that was the most upsetting thing.”

She added that since Violet had been in hospital her health had improved dramatically, and she had become a favourite of the nursing staff.

Violet’s brother George Major, 75, who is also Pearly King of Peckham, said: “If it wasn’t for my daughter and granddaughter we would have had a funeral by now.

“She is the love of my life, my sister; I have always looked after her. All my family loves her.”

Before moving to St Dominic’s, Violet had lived happily for 30 years at Osborne House, on The Ridge, but was unable to stay there after the care home had been transformed into self-contained flats, as she had never before lived alone.

The family hope to move Violet to a home near to where they live in Surrey, when she is discharged from hospital.

Lynne Hagon, operational manager at St Dominic’s Nursing Home, said: “The welfare of our residents is always our primary concern and priority.

“However, we are also committed to protecting patient confidentiality and, as such we are currently not in a position to comment on the circumstances regarding any medical decisions that were made concerning the treatment and care of this resident.

“We can confirm that an investigation is being carried out by the local authority’s Safeguarding Team and that we are doing all we can to support this.

“Until such time that an outcome of the investigation has been reached, we will be unable to make any further comment.”