Two care home staff, Santhosh Rajan and Marsha Tulloch, have appeared at Burton Magistrates Court 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. Guy Forster, clinical negligence partner at Penningtons Manches, is the solicitor for Clive Teale, the victim’s son.
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 in Sutton Coldfield. 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.
On the evening of 8 October 2011, Mr 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.
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. 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 Mrs Teale 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.