Elderly woman left for 18 hours after care blunder
An 85-year-old disabled woman was left sitting alone, frightened and confused in a chair in her flat for 18 hours after a carer failed to gain access to her house.
Iris Needle, who is diabetic and infirm, was hospitalised in February after falling at her flat in Warren Court, Ashfield Close, Ashtead.
Carers organised by Surrey County Council have visited her flat three times a day since she was discharged, but on various occasions have been unable to gain access – even though Mrs Needle’s children said they had provided the entry code to the care team more than once.
On Friday evening, a carer again arrived without the code and rang the intercom bell.
As Mrs Needle is unable to walk she was not able to respond and the carer left, it was claimed.
That meant Mrs Needle was “imprisoned” in her chair from about 2pm when the last carer visited until the next visit at about 9am – a total of more than 18 hours.
Her son David Needle said: “I was absolutely fuming and it was really upsetting seeing mum in that way. She was in a right state – disoriented, stressed out and she did not know where she was.
“She had been sitting in her chair the whole night and did not know what to do. She had no food or drink, couldn’t go to the toilet and was sitting with the lights on all night.
“It has been playing on her mind because the next evening she asked me whether she would be left in her chair again.
“There is a completely disjointed system of communication in terms of the carers entering mum’s flat.”
Mr Needle and his sister Lorraine Stoneham are now making a formal complaint.
In an email to Surrey PCT, Ms Stoneham said: “Last night an incident occurred that is beyond all my understanding.
“A carer rang my mother’s intercom bell. We have, needless to say, provided the code for this entry system on more than one occasion to the care team operatives, and have been repeatedly told all carers are in possession of this code.
“I believe if they cannot gain access they have a central number to contact to gain the information.”
A spokesman for Surrey County Council, which manages Mrs Needle’s carers, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our older residents is a top priority for us, and we do everything we can to support them.
“In this instance we have talked with Mrs Needle’s daughter and have subsequently adjusted the service to ensure Mrs Needle receives the services she requires.
“We will of course be looking into the matters raised in more detail to ensure that whatever measures are required to prevent a future recurrence are taken.”