Sunday 23 October 2016

Ex-care home employee makes allegations over dead patient's treatment

The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.
The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.

A former employee of a south Dublin residential home made serious allegations at an inquest about the care of a pensioner who died after a fall.

Mary Foley (88) fractured her leg in the fall in her room at the Eastwell Residential Home, in Palmerstown Park, Dublin 6, on September 15, 2013.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard allegations from former assistant matron at the home Lita Jacob regarding Mrs Foley's care, including an alleged referral to A&E being stopped and her medication being withheld.

Eastwell strongly refuted the allegations, with their counsel Brian Foley BL suggesting to the coroner that Ms Jacob had an "axe to grind".

Mrs Foley fell from a chair in her room. In Ms Jacob's evidence she claimed she discovered her after hearing she was sitting in a chair, which concerned her because Mrs Foley "was a bit wobbly". Another matron, Claire Williams, claimed she was the one who became concerned after seeing Mrs Foley in the chair and went to get Ms Jacob after which they found her on the ground.

An ambulance was called immediately. Mrs Foley was taken to St James's Hospital where she died a month later.

Making a number of claims around Mrs Foley's care, Ms Jacob said she called in GP Dr Joseph Martin on September 12 to check on an ill Mrs Foley and he told her that she needed to go to hospital.

She claimed the manager of the home, Wendy Whelan, arrived and, following a private conversation between her and Dr Martin, it was decided that Mrs Foley would not go to hospital. Dr Martin had written a referral letter which subsequently disappeared, she said. She reported the incident to an administrator, she added.

Dr Martin, an independent GP who carries out pre-admission assessments for Eastwell, told the court he did not remember writing a letter. He did not think Mrs Foley needed to go to A&E and she did not want to go, he said.

Ms Jacob also claimed that, when she returned to work in August following a period of absence, Mrs Foley told her that her medication was being withheld.

"She complained that she was neglected by Wendy Whelan," she said. Ms Foley's condition had worsened in the period she was absent, she added.

Ms Jacob told the coroner that medication is kept in a locked box in Ms Whelan's office and she later found medication for Mrs Foley dated "June, July and August" in there.

She also claimed Ms Whelan told her "not to tell everything" to gardai and this referred to the tablets.

Dr Martin said Mrs Foley's medication may have been changed by the mental health team looking after her with the "old medication" still there.

Ms Whelan denied having any discussion with Dr Martin about Mrs Foley going to hospital on the 12th. She did not instruct Ms Jacob on what she should tell Gardaí, she said.

The inquest was adjourned for a further hearing on June 12.

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