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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbrian care home slammed after resident’s death

A Whitehaven care home has come under fire for its record-keeping following the death of a resident.

Elizabeth Berwick photo
Elizabeth Berwick

Elizabeth Berwick, 85, died in the West Cumberland Hospital in March 2011 following a three-week stay at Pow Beck, in Mirehouse.

A number of processes at Pow Beck – including care plans and risk assessments – have now been called into question at an inquest into Mrs Berwick’s death.

Coroner Robert Chapman said that aspects of the system put in place to record and monitor Mrs Berwick’s care had been “wholly unsatisfactory”.

He raised further concern that there had since been a “tidy-up exercise of paperwork [at Pow Beck] to prepare for a future hearing”.

Janice Sibbald, who was manager at Pow Beck during Mrs Berwick’s stay, firmly denied that there had been any deliberate wrongdoing but added that “a lot of lessons have been learned”.

The inquest, which resumed for its fourth day after an eight-month adjournment, heard that Mrs Berwick, of Lincoln Road, Whitehaven, was admitted to hospital before Christmas 2010 where she had a pacemaker fitted.

After a spell on the Copeland Unit, she was discharged to Cumbria County Council-owned Pow Beck on February 7, 2011, despite some concern among her family and care home staff about her suitability to be released from hospital.

Her health deteriorated and she suffered a severe bed sore and bowel problems while in Pow Beck and subsequently returned to hospital on February 26. She died on March 2 of internal bleeding, a urinary tract infection and a pressure sore.

The inquest heard from Gillian Shepherd, a superviser at Pow Beck, that a risk assessment had been completed when Mrs Berwick arrived at the home.

However, it was revealed that this document – and a number of changes to Mrs Berwick’s care plan – was not transferred to Mrs Berwick’s supervisory notes which staff used to assess her care on a daily basis. Mrs Shepherd accepted that this “was not best practice”.

The inquest also heard that two signatures on a care plan purporting to be those of a Pow Beck worker Carol Chambers were “wildly different from one another”. Solicitor John Dugan, for the Berwick family, claimed that one of the signatures had been falsified. Pow Beck staff accepted that the signature under question was not that of Carol Chambers, but did not know who had signed the document in her name.

Mrs Berwick – who had eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren – “lived for her family”, said son Thomas.

The inquest continues today and is expected to last up to two weeks. It will hear further evidence from those involved in Mrs Berwick’s care, including community nurses, hospital staff and GPs.

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