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Family’s hope for apology years after relative’s death following fall at King’s Lynn care home

Vera Coleman before the fall, right, with her daughter Karen Hill, centre, and Stephen Hill.'Photo: SUBMITTED.
Vera Coleman before the fall, right, with her daughter Karen Hill, centre, and Stephen Hill.'Photo: SUBMITTED.

A family who claim their relative died as a result of an “avoidable” fall at a residential home in Lynn have said all they want is an apology.

Karly Swain, granddaughter to Vera Coleman, says her grandmother died a few weeks after the incident at Briar House Care Home at the end of 2014.

Along with an apology, Miss Swain said the family want to be sure that measures have been put in place to ensure an incident such as this does not happen again.

But a spokeswoman for Briar House said they are “confident” that the home is a safe and caring environment for all residents.

Miss Swain alleges that Mrs Coleman had been left on a sofa in the communal room without a guard, despite staff reportedly being aware of her dislike for the room, when she fell on to her face.

She said: “On arrival at the care home after a fall just days before her 90th birthday my Grandma struggled to settle in to the care home.”

Miss Swain said her grandmother, who was 91 when she died, had been at Briar House for just over a year.

“At her time of death my Grandma’s knees had fused leaving her in the foetal position,” she added.

“Even though staff stated they knew she did not like being in the communal room, she was put in there on a sofa with no guard.

“She fell off straight on to her face and was left face down for 40 minutes awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.”

Miss Swain claims that while Mrs Coleman was being treated, hospital officials raised Care Quality Commission (CQC) and safeguarding alerts and “refused” to let her go back to the home.

“They felt she wasn’t safe.”

CQC officials inspected the home, she said, but by the time they had completed their investigation, her grandmother had died.

Reports on CQC’s website say an inspection in December 2014 rated Briar House as ‘requires improvement’.

Miss Swain said she called the home to find out what happened, but by that time the manager had already left.

She said, thanks to training for her role in the care industry, she knew it was possible to take the case to the local authority ombudsman.

She added: “The ombudsman asked for a payment to be made with a formal apology to my mum.

“The payment was late and no apology ever arrived.”

That was over a year ago, Miss Swain said, and there has still been no apology.

“It’s unbelievable. You can’t treat people that way and think it’s okay,” she added.

“An apology is all we are after. My Grandma paid for her care, but for 14 months of that, we feel she was not receiving the care she was paying for.

“She paid the care home for a private room so she could die in private.

“They messed up terribly. We are not looking for an individual to be responsible, but the company.

“We just hope it won’t happen again, but because they have not acknowledged it, you don’t know if they have made any changes.

“I just want to stand up for my Grandma.”

A spokeswoman for the home, which now has a different operator, said: “We regret that Mrs Coleman’s family has been upset by the circumstances surrounding her sad death in 2014.

“This was looked into internally, by the safeguarding team and the local government ombudsman and the family are aware of the findings.

“The home thoroughly reviewed the reports at the time and acknowledged areas where improvements could be made.

“We are confident that the home is a safe and caring environment for all its residents.”

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