Left alone for 15 hours: Widespread outrage over plight of Leeds OAP

A pensioner’s experience has prompted readers, charities and politicians to demand more is done for our older people. Katie Baldwin reports.

Lily Latham. Published on the 06 March 2014 09:36

Lily Latham.

Widespread outrage has been sparked by the case of an 88-year-old disabled pensioner left stranded in bed for 15 hours.

Readers inundated the Yorkshire Evening Post with angry comments after we revealed yesterday how a home care service had insisted on putting Lily Latham to bed at 6.30pm.

Because Mrs Latham is totally immobile, she was forced to stay there without even being able to get up to go to the toilet until her morning visit at 10am.

One of the widow’s carers found her sobbing in bed and the grandma said afterwards: “I have no dignity left now”.

Now Leeds MP Greg Mulholland, co-chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People, called the failures in care “disgraceful”.

A national charity said her case was “distressing” and criticised a lack of funding for social care.

Their comments came as a new report from Age UK warns that cuts to social care budgets have led to a care crisis.

The widow, from Rothwell, Leeds, told how she had experienced several problems with her private home care firm Housing 21, which is commissioned by Leeds City Council.

Though she said many of the carers themselves did their best, visits were at the wrong times or rolled together and too often she did not have the same regular carers.

She complained, but she says the firm then said it could no longer look after her and she thought moves were under way to transfer her to a new company.

Mrs Latham, who served in the ATS during the Second World War and worked for her late husband’s firm before retirement, cried as she told the YEP: “I just feel like nobody wants me.”

After the Yorkshire Evening Post got involved, Leeds City Council sent social workers to see Mrs Latham.

A spokesman said: “We are confident that Housing 21 will fully investigate and address the concerns raised by Mrs Latham, and will ensure that she receives services to her satisfaction which are delivered to the high standard we expect from all of our service providers.”

The firm has now told her it will be able to provide her care.

Mr Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) called for a full investigation.

He said: “Like all YEP readers, I was appalled to hear about Mrs Latham’s lack of care.

“Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, dignity and compassion by health and care services and the failures in Mrs Latham’s care were disgraceful, no older person should not be left alone for 15 hours and be unable to go to the toilet or get a drink.

“The pressure on care providers is obviously immense as around 300,000 people are currently in receipt of home care, and with our increasingly elderly population, millions more are likely to need care in the near future.

“More needs to be done to address this and guarantee that care services are able to cope with an increasing elderly population.”

The MP said that the Care Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords, would reform social care and address the issue of people being forced to sell their home to pay for care.

“The care and dignity of our older citizens must be a priority for national and local Government,” he added.

National older people’s charity Independent Age said Mrs Latham’s story was very distressing and an extreme example of typical complaints about home care.

Jacoba Oldham, Independent Age area manager for Yorkshire, said: “While much home care is good, it is sadly not unusual for an elderly person to see many different carers or to have their meal and bedtimes determined by when carers are available rather than when the person wants to eat or go to bed.

“Another frequent complaint is that care is squeezed into 15 minutes visits which are insufficient to meet people’s needs with compassion and dignity. Underlying these problems is a basic lack of funding for care. Many local authorities do not pay a realistic amount for home care and providers are forced to cut costs as a result.”

The new report by Age UK says that local authorities are “rationing care” by only being able to support elderly people with substantial or critical needs.

It also warned that the Care Bill could be undermined by “inadequate” funding.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said: “At the moment too many older people who have contributed to society throughout their lives are being left to fend for themselves when they need care and support.

“We cannot continue to sacrifice their safety, health and dignity. It is time for politicians in all parties to act.”


Gemma Heather Smitt: Society doesn’t care about the elderly and sadly the same goes for families as well. I feel so saddened for the lady and hope something happens to the firm. I work in care and couldn’t leave someone for 15 hours.

Michaela Dizzy-dolly Dawson: I think its vile. Why do care work if you can’t and won’t care for people properly? They’re clearly in the wrong job. People that care would do their job right.

Paul Newman: Disgusting.

Libby Brooke: This makes me so sad. Poor lady.

Wendy Reed: Yes this IS the reality. Care for the elderly in hospital e.g. after stroke, is equally poor.

Julie Soden: Heartbreaking.

Kir20: She has a phone. That’s a relief, at least she isn’t completely cut off from everyone. I’m just wondering if she doesn’t have family to ring? If it was my nan, I like to think she would have rang one of us to sort it out.

Aliesha Smith: So sad. Prisoners are treated better. Poor woman x

Andrea Allan: Very sad state of affairs. I’m sure that the majority of people who work in the care homes give their all to looking after the people they do. That said with so many cut backs and job losses it’s not surprising that more time isn’t always given to each person in their care. The carers are only human and can only do so much by themselves. It’s the pen holders as per usual that is often the cause to the problems.

Carolyn Heptonstall: This is terrible. The poor lady, although I do want to make the point that not all care companies and homes are like this. I’m a carer in a local care home and its a fantastic care facility. I just hope things like this stop happening and this lady gets the proper care she deserves x

Katrina Lindsay: It’s not necessarily always the carers. It’s the time constraints and the greed of the company providing the care.

Julie Mumsykins Miller: Probably because families are too busy working hard all hours. God send` years ago ‘mum’ could be at hone with kids and look after elderly parents too. All the Government’s fault.

Beverley Anne Keenan: It’s not going to get any better. There are lots of disabled people left like this too.

Mark Adams: It’s awful to think low life in prison get looked after better than our aged who probably put into the system all they life.

Jason Whiteley: I’m sure this is not an isolated incident. Anyone who lives on their own could be left in this position regardless of age.

Shaun Pears: And the home carers, through no fault of their own, flit in and out like a whirlwind. Doing just what they have to and then they’re gone leaving the poor person alone. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop for a chat and be human? But no time is money!

Richard Mazurke: My partner is a care worker,and through no fault of the care workers they sometimes only get given a half hour slot to make the person something to eat, take them to the toilet, make sure they have had their tablets. It’s all wrong. She wishes she could spend more time with them but she can’t due to how many calls she has and how long she has to get to her next house call. It’s all about money these days.

Karen Jones: People are treated like this daily because care companies take on anyone. I have worked for this company and another company and couldn’t wait to get out of dom care to be honest. It’s awful what happened to this lady but not unique in an afraid. A lot of carers just want to get finished early, they lie about their time of visits, committing fraud when they put down they went in at certain times and they haven’t.

Complete farce. Only my opinion obviously.

Audra Musgrave: This is disgusting. The poor lass is someone’s mum and grandma. They need sacking because clearly they can’t look after our elderly people.

Davelovesleeds: A sad story but the phone is within easy reach. Why did she not ring her family or at least the care service?

Anon90: Having had a relative who worked in care for the council this is not surprising and certainly not the first time it’s happened. They were allocated 15 minutes for each client regardless of their needs sometimes having to cook a hot meal from scratch, clean, shop and deliver personal care all in the 15 minutes allocated. They were then given ridiculous times to get from one client’s house to another and in between were phoned by their bosses to fit more clients in. They were told to fit 15 hours work into eight.

Clairellister: The appalling contents of this report do not surprise me one bit. I had a mother who after a stroke depended on home care for 13 years. Lack of respect, dignity, disorganisation, were common. She was often left in bed until lunchtime, or got ready for bed in the afternoon to fit in with their rotas.

FromLeeds: She was left in bed with no one to help get her up. She was clearly forgotten about. Someone needs to accept there was a mistake and make sure it never happens again instead of just passing the blame onto someone else.

Our Cedric: This scenario is far from uncommon. Don’t grow old folks – don’t grow old!

Ollyjames: As an ex carer for LCC, this would not have happened. We had regular rotas and if someone was not on your rota you would phone and ask where is mrs X, have you got her covered? I don’t remember anyone being missed. But the cut backs changed that, and lets face it LCC don’t care about the elderly anymore. .

Theenquirier: It’s scandalous how we allow the elderly to fall off the radar in this country, left to rot on the scrapheap. .

Paddyg: As deplorable as this is it will always happen where funding is required. What is needed is more help in the form of volunteers to help those who need it.


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