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Coroner rules a ‘Lack of care’ contributed to death

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: January 01, 2014

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Acres Nook Care Home in Kidsgrove

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A CARE home has been blamed for contributing to the death of a 48-year-old woman with severe learning difficulties.

Deborah Stewart was taken to Acres Nook Care Home in Kidsgrove – but was later admitted into hospital suffering from dehydration.

Miss Stewart, of Ash Tree Hill, Cheadle, later died of pneumonia and a urinary tract infection at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

At an inquest into Miss Stewart’s death, Assistant Coroner Anthony Curzon criticised the care home for ‘not meeting her needs sufficiently’.

Miss Stewart spent 16 days at the home after being admitted on March 8, and staff admitted ‘struggling’ to care for her.

Mr Curzon said he believed this ‘lack of care’ contributed to Miss Stewart’s death, on April 24.

The victim had previously been cared for by her mother Matilda, but she died after suffering from a heart attack.

Miss Stewart’s family have welcomed the coroner’s verdict and say they hope it will change procedures at the home.

Sister Valerie Galbraith of Heath Road, Maidstone, Kent, said: “She was just neglected and I don’t want this to happen to another person. I had to organise Debbie’s funeral just six weeks after our mother died.

“When I saw her at the hospital, she was foaming at the mouth because she was so dehydrated. It was just terrible to see.

“Debbie was born with learning difficulties. She couldn’t speak or feed herself and she needed 24 hour care. She also had to use a wheelchair.

“My mum had looked after her for 48 years but she was struggling in the last three months.”

Miss Stewart was first taken into the Douglas Road care home in Newcastle after her mum was admitted into hospital on March 4.

Four days later she was moved to Acres Nook, where the problems began. She remained there for more than two weeks before being taken into hospital with dehydration.

Care home manager Jacinta Lowton said: “She was a difficult lady to feed and we were struggling with her. She would get really excited when she saw people and was quite loud so we did have trouble feeding her in communal areas.”

Assistant coroner Anthony Curzon recorded a death of natural causes of pneumonia and urinary tract infection.

He said: “I believe this lady’s death may have been contributed to by a lack of care while she was at Acres Nook.

“For some reason things went badly wrong. There were things missing from the care home records. I don’t believe she was properly cared for and it led to her being admitted to hospital when she was found to be severely dehydrated. Her needs weren’t met sufficiently at Acres Nook.”

A spokesman for the home said it had taken on board ‘useful feedback’ regarding improvements that can be made to their record keeping.

He added: “Our deepest sympathies go out to Ms Stewart’s loved ones during what must be an exceptionally difficult time.”

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