Distress caused by flawed care home investigation

Joyce Hemingway, pictured at Harrogate Flower Show in 2011.

Joyce Hemingway, pictured at Harrogate Flower Show in 2011.

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Care home bosses failed to properly investigate how an elderly woman ended up in hospital with bruising in the final days of her life.

The family of 92-year-old Joyce Hemingway only got an apology from Bupa two years after her stay at the West Ridings Residential Nursing Home.

Mrs Hemingway, who had been suffering from reduced mobility, was taken to the home’s Airedale Unit for rehabilitation after a stay in hospital in December 2013.

Days later she was back in hospital, where doctors raised concerns about bruising found on her body.

She left hospital on December 24 and died four days later after her condition deteriorated.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman upheld a complaint from daughter Janet Richardson that Bupa’s investigation into her mother’s care was “inadequate”.

The Ombudsman’s report said: “We find that Bupa did not act fairly when it investigated Mrs Richardson’s complaint.

“It did not establish the facts of the case and failed to consider important evidence from Mrs Hemingway’s family.”

The family were told anti-coagulants could lead to bruising in elderly people after only a slight knock. The Ombudsman made no findings on what happened to Mrs Hemingway at the home, and said it had not been possible to establish the cause of the injuries.

But the report said Bupa failed to interview relevant staff the home.

It said: “This was maladministration. We can see how this would have been distressing for Mrs Richardson and how she felt her questions were not answered properly.”

Mrs Richardson, who was helped with her complaint against Bupa by Wakefield Healthwatch, said: “It just makes me so angry that Bupa got away with a letter of apology and £250 compensation, and that’s it. It was the worst experience for my mother, for that to happen to the lady that she was.”

The West Ridings said in a statement: “While the Ombudsman’s report did not find fault with the quality of our care that we provided for Mrs Hemingway, we did take immediate action to address the concerns and improved our complaints investigation process. We are very sorry for any distress caused, and have apologised to her family.”

Joyce Hemingway was an enthusiastic flower arranger and a popular member of Thornhill and Ossett flower clubs.

She served as chairwoman and president of the Thornhill club, which she helped keep going over many years with her enthusiasm.

Mrs Hemingway, who was born in Dewsbury and lived in Netherton for more than 40 years, was also a keen watercolour painter who taught flower arranging.

A long-serving member of Netherton and District Women’s Institute, she ran a flower shop in Horbury and made floral displays for weddings and other occasions.

Mrs Hemingway won many prizes at flower shows, including Harrogate, where she a regular exhibitor and was interviewed on the radio just after celebrating her 90th birthday.