Daughter ‘failed by carers’ say parents

Congham: Daughter ‘failed by carers’ say parents
Published on Saturday 4 February 2012 10:32

A COUPLE have withdrawn their severely disabled daughter from supported accommodation after a “catalogue of unkept promises”.

In one incident, they claim carers failed to contact Bill and Jean Butt before leaving their 47-year-old daughter to wake up in hospital in pain, among strangers and unable to make herself understood.

Mr and Mrs Butt said they had done everything they could to work with care providers Dimensions and given them every chance but no longer had any faith that staffing problems would be resolved.

Mr Butt, 63, said: “It’s going to be a big strain which will get worse as we get older but Tracey is already much happier.”

Tracey has learning difficulties and can do little for herself. Mr Butt said: “She can’t dress herself and is doubly incontinent. She has no hearing and no speech and suffers from epilepsy, asthma and allergies. She is very alert and able to get around in the house but if people cannot understand her she gets angry and aggressive.”

Tracey moved into a specially adapted bungalow in Gaywood in 2010 after her previous home in purpose-built residential accommodation in Birch Tree Close, Lynn, was closed down.

Mr and Mrs Butt, of Low Road, Congham, fought the closure and only agreed to the move subject to certain conditions.

It was confirmed in writing that Tracey would be supported by a dedicated team of staff for 24 hours a day and that bank or agency staff would only be used in extreme circumstances.

Support staff would undergo all relevant training including challenging behaviour, use of a sleep apnoea machine, use of a suction tube and use of oxygen.

Mr Butt said, from the beginning, agency staff were constantly used.

They did not understand Tracey and were unable to communicate with her or look after her medication or medical equipment.

There seemed to be fewer trained staff all the time and part-time managers began to be used.

Despite an assurance that there would always be one core member of staff on duty who knew Tracey very well, quite often there were agency staff.

In November, they lodged an official complaint against Dimensions after carers left Tracey in Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital without telling her parents.

Mrs Butt, 68, said Tracey was suffering from a hiatus hernia and woke up screaming in pain and unable to communicate with the nurses.

“She was signing ‘Mum Dad come here’ but they couldn’t understand or sign to her. It was devastating for Tracey,” she said.

Dimensions subsequently accepted the couple should have been alerted that the carers were leaving and said: “We very much regret this error.”

On January 8, another problem arose when Tracey developed a pain in her side which Mrs Butt rightly suspected was pleurisy. She asked for a carer to go to hospital with her and Tracey but was refused because there were only two staff on duty and it would have left the other tenant in the bungalow with only one carer.

The following weekend, Mrs Butt said: “I found out there would be three agency staff on duty, none properly trained to care for Tracey. Again, there would be just two staff after 8pm.”

Tracey had always spent three days a week at her parents’ house because they wanted to care for her themselves as much as they could and they came to the decision that she should stay with them.

They are taking legal advice and seeking an apology from Dimensions. “They promised us the earth and threw back mud,” said Mrs Butt.

Christine Farrow, Dimensions operations director, said: “The safety and wellbeing of the people we support is always Dimensions’ primary focus and we regret that the family has decided to withdraw from the service.

“We have been working closely with all the relevant authorities and the family to try to ensure the best possible outcomes for the people we support at this service.

“We listen to what we are told and we work hard to reconcile any differences in opinion. We are sorry that we have not been able to reconcile differences between all parties.”