Elderly dementia patients suffered unnecessary and avoidable pain, distress at rest homes, watchdog says – TVNZ

Radius Care has apologised to the families of two elderly dementia patients who died in separate rest homes, after failures from its staff.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall released two reports into the 2017 deaths of the man and woman today, both of whom suffered from dementia.

The elderly people and the specific rest homes they were in have not been named for privacy reasons, however both were at Radius Care rest homes.

In the first case, staff failed to provide appropriate care and services to a man with dementia and prostate cancer.

He was hospitalised with a chest infection and impact faeces after staff didn’t give him prescribed bowel medications, before he broke his leg in an unmonitored fall and staff didn’t tell his family until the next day.

“Basic components of his care were deficient,” Ms Wall says, adding that the man “suffered unnecessary and avoidable pain, distress, and indignity in his final weeks”.

In the second case, the rest home was criticised for not seeking specialist input sooner while treating an elderly woman with advanced dementia and restricted mobility.

She developed two pressure injuries on her heels over the course of three months, neither of which healed but instead became infected.

She died a short time after being reviewed by a wounds nurse specialist.

Ms Walls says there was a pattern of poor care and poor compliance with policy from Radius’ staff.

“There is no evidence of Radius staff having discussed Mrs A’s end-of-life care with either Mrs A or her family,” she adds.

Ms Wall says in both cases, it highlights the importance of robust protocols when caring for elderly people in the rest homes.

“It is critical if someone’s condition is deteriorating that this is picked up early and all staff involved in their care are consistently managing the symptoms in the most appropriate manner,” she says.

“This includes seeking specialist expertise when it is warranted.”

A spokesperson for Radius Care confirmed to 1 NEWS the company has apologised to the people and families referenced in the report.

Radius Care is also implementing the report’s recommendations, the spokesperson says.

“The facilities have upskilled and trained staff, improved communications with families, provided education for staff, and reviewed its documentation and reminder practices.

“The comfort and wellbeing of our residents is at the heart of everything we do at Radius Care, and our hearts go out to the affected families.”

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