Luton widow cannot forgive herself after ‘abuse did occur’ to dementia sufferer Ken in care home

A heartbroken Luton widow is seeking justice for her late husband, after a council inquiry revealed that “abuse did occur” during his stay at a residential home.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:11 pm

Kenneth Savage, 87, who was suffering from kidney failure, dementia, Parkinson’s, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), went to stay in Mulberry Court from February 23 until March 15 while his wife Jessie was recovering from treatment to her hip.

However, alarm bells began to ring for Jessie when she visited the home to find Ken with bruises on his face and arms and was told that he had fallen out of bed.

She also says that there were a number of other worrying incidents, including a catheter not fitted correctly and on show, a wound not fully dressed, and Ken not properly clothed. She also says Mulberry Court lost his false teeth.

Jessie's photos of her husband, Kenneth Savage.

On March 15, Ken was taken to hospital with shortness of breath and died the next day from aspiration pneumonia.

Jessie said: “Ken’s not here any more, so I have to be his voice. It’s not that he died, it’s the way he was treated.

“When he was bruised I was told he kept falling out of bed. But he’d never done that before.

“We got this letter about the inquiry and now our family are in pieces, and the neither the council nor Mulberry Court have apologised since.”

Jessie's photo of one of Ken's bruises.

After a safeguarding inquiry, the letter from Luton Borough Council said: “The inquiry finds that on a balance of probability...the allegation of Neglect and Act of Omission against Mulberry Court is found to be substantiated.

“Abuse did occur to Mr Savage.”

Jessie said: “This sort of thing goes on far too much in this country. I need to get justice for Ken and for any other poor people out there.

“Ken was an animal lover, he especially loved dogs.

Ken's catheter on show. Photo by Jessie.

“He was a nice guy and would do anything for anyone. If someone needed their garden doing, he’d be round there.

“When Ken was in Mulberry Court, I was supposed to be resting, but I visited almost every day - I was so worried.

“I cannot forgive myself for letting him remain in their care with so little dignity. Bless Ken, he did not deserve this.”

Jessie claims that Luton Borough Council recommended that Ken went into residential care, because it was cheaper, but Jessie would have preferred him to have been taken into a nursing home for round the clock supervision and care. She also says that after Ken passed away, social services offered to pay the full cost of his care at Mulberry Court, so she wouldn’t have to.

Bruises to Ken's face. Taken by Jessie.

Runwood Homes, which runs Mulberry Court, said: “It is of utmost importance that all involved agencies be reminded and ensure that the duty of care to any resident is maintained in line with confidentiality and therefore it is inappropriate to refer to specific cases individually.

“We can confirm A gentleman was admitted to Mulberry Court for a period of respite care in February 2018. This gentleman was receiving palliative care and as such had complex needs more akin to nursing requirements which on review should have been a joint agency decision to ensure the care delivered was in keeping with the assessed needs of this resident.

“Unfortunately during his stay he did experience a number falls and was admitted to hospital. This is both regrettable and distressing for all involved. It is most important we balance liberty and resident choice in any care facility and prevention of falls is a difficult issue recognised widely across all healthcare providers who continue to work hard to minimise such risk through prevention strategies.

“An adult safeguarding investigation and review was undertaken at the time and immediate actions were taken to minimise future risk.

“The management team at Mulberry Court was completely revised in July 2017 and the current management team within the home continue to work very hard and in close partnership with the local authority, striving towards ensuring that the home delivers the standards of care that we as an organisation expect.

“We would like to sincerely apologise to the family and friends of this resident for any distress that has been caused, and assure them that learning and practice has developed in line with this incident

Ken's wound not dressed properly. Photo by Jessie.

“As an organisation we strive only for the highest standards of care and monitor our services very closely to ensure care delivery is person centred and meaningful to all who live with us. Our residents wellbeing is our number one priority.

“It is only ever with the best interests of our residents that we undertake to improve and learn from any area where short comings are experienced.”

Cllr Hazel Simmons, leader of the council, said: “We are sorry for the distressing circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Mr Savage and offer our deepest sympathy to Mrs Savage.

“A senior manager will be meeting with her later this week in order to address her concerns surrounding this terrible sequence of events.

“We are continuing to monitor Mulberry Court and the home is not currently accepting any new admissions.

“Our officers are investigating the events surrounding Mr Savage’s case to see if everything that should have been done was done and to ensure that any lessons are learned.”