Care home resident (82) died after staff were ‘too busy’ with Christmas preparations

Troubled: Adderley Care Homes in Long Sutton
Troubled: Adderley Care Homes in Long Sutton
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AN 82-year-old dementia sufferer died after being underfed by care home staff said to have been “too busy” with their Christmas preparations.

Edna Barnes (82) was allegedly given little more than one-tenth of the daily food and drink needed for an adult woman to survive.

Felicity Gerry, prosecuting at Lincoln Crown Court yesterday, told the jury that staff at Adderley Care Home in Long Sutton were too busy concentrating on their own Christmas preparations and Mrs Barnes, a grandmother and a mother of eight, deteriorated rapidly during her stay.

She was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, with severe dehydration and passed away four days later on December 31, 2008.

Mrs Barnes was having pureed food and liquids but records from the home indicated she was given as little as 275mls of fluid intake a day when an adult woman needs between 2,500 and 3,000mls.

Miss Gerry said: “The amount she was given was obviously inadequate. It was not very much at all.

“It is no coincidence that this neglect took place around Christmas.

“You may think that Christmas and holidays were prioritised over patient care.”

Mrs Barnes needed one-to-one feeding which would take up to an hour per meal but the health authorities provided extra funding to pay for additional staff time.

However, the jury was told there was no evidence the care home had claimed the additional money.

The manager and assistant manager of the care home, together with two nursing staff, are accused of wilful neglect.

Miss Gerry said: “This is not merely negligence but a wilful failure by senior staff who failed to properly supervise and manage Mrs Barnes’ care. There was a dreadful lack of supervision.”

Miss Gerry said Mrs Barnes was “lively and mobile” but needing supervision while eating and drinking when she was transferred to the home from a hospital unit.

She added: “She could walk small distances with a carer. It wasn’t contemplated she would be bed-ridden.”

The prosecutor said that within days of admission Mrs Barnes was noticed as being listless and sleepy which were classic signs of dehydration.

The former care home manager Joy Byfield (39), of East Ham, London; former assistant manager Jane Allen (39), of Eastgate, Fleet; staff nurse Paul Shepherd (44), of Swapcoat Lane, Long Sutton; and nurse Jenieve Caesar (57), of Hornchurch in Essex, all deny neglect of a person who lacks mental capacity, between December 14 and 28, 2008.

The trial continues.