Two care home staff, Santhosh Rajan and Marsha Tulloch, have appeared at Burton Magistrates Court today (Friday, 2 May 2014) on charges of manslaughter following the death of a 91 year old great-grandmother. The pair are next to appear at Stafford Crown Court on 9 May 2014.
Iris Teale, a resident of Bupa Aston Court Nursing Home in Little Aston, was found on 8 October 2011 with an unexplained fracture of her leg and admitted to Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield. Tragically, Mrs Teale’s condition deteriorated and she died on 24 October 2011.
Mrs Teale had lived at the Bupa Aston Court Nursing Home for several years. She suffered from dementia and was very frail and entirely dependent on others for her care. Her son, Mr Clive Teale visited her regularly and the weekend before the incident she had seemed bright and had recognised him.
On the evening of 8 October 2011, Clive Teale received a telephone call from the nursing home to say that his mother had had an accident and was being taken to hospital. Mr Teale and his wife went to the A & E department. X-rays later confirmed that her left femur was fractured.
In the following days consideration was given to whether Mrs Teale would undergo surgery but ultimately a decision was made that she was not fit to undergo an operation. Mrs Teale remained on morphine to control the pain.
Sadly, Mrs Teale’s condition worsened and on 23 October 2011 her son was told that she had developed a chest infection. The following day, Mr Teale received a phone call from the hospital while on his way to visit his mother to say that she was rapidly deteriorating. Tragically, by the time he arrived at the hospital, his mother had died.
The incident prompted an internal investigation by Bupa Care Homes and investigations by Staffordshire Social Services and Staffordshire Police. Initially Mr Teale found the nursing home to be reluctant to explain how the incident had occurred. In an effort to discover the truth around the incident, Mr Teale brought a claim for clinical negligence against Bupa Care Homes.
It was not until a year later, on 17 October 2012, after lawyers for the family intervened, that Bupa issued a formal apology to the family for “failings in the nursing care”. The explanation given was that Iris had been moved, contrary to her care plan, by one member of staff acting alone and that this member of staff had been sacked and others had been disciplined. It was said that the nursing home had made “improvements” to ensure similar failings would not occur in the future.
Bupa, however, refused to disclose further details of the investigation and its findings and so the family still do not know precisely what happened.
The inquest into Mrs Teale’s death remains on hold until criminal proceedings are concluded.
Guy Forster, clinical negligence partner at Penningtons Manches LLP and solicitor for Mr Clive Teale, said: “It is incredibly frustrating that, more than two years on, the family still do not know exactly what happened to Iris and they feel that Bupa Care Homes has not done all it could to be open about the failings in care. They now hope that, through these criminal proceedings, they can finally learn the truth of what happened to Iris that day.
“The family are keen to understand what measures have been taken and to ensure that all lessons have been learnt so that no one else suffers in this way.”
Clive Teale said: “To lose my mother in this way has been heart-breaking. She was a vulnerable, frail lady who depended entirely on others for her care. We thought she was in the best and safest place possible and for her to have been injured in this way is inconceivable. The way in which Bupa has dealt with our concerns has only compounded our grief.”