Son's fury after mother dies in hospital

By Danielle NuttallA GREVING son is demanding improvement in the care of elderly patients after his terminally-ill mother spent 13 months in hospital because a suitable care home was not available.

By Danielle Nuttall

A GREVING son is demanding improvement in the care of elderly patients after his terminally-ill mother spent 13 months in hospital because a suitable care home was not available.

Rosie Pearce, 85, a grandmother-of-three, died in Ipswich Hospital last month following a two-year battle against Alzheimer's disease.

Her son, Michael, spoke of his anger last night that his mother was unable to enjoy the comfort of a care home with round-the-clock care during her final months.

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He also claimed health bosses had "insensitively" posted a letter after her death informing him his mother was not eligible for full NHS funding towards the cost of a care home, even though she had spent 13 months in hospital prior to her death.

Mr Pearce, a lorry driver, of Owl's Green, Dennington, near Framlingham, said: "Elderly people should not be subjected to that end to their life. Nothing will bring her back, but I feel I have to do something for her even in death.

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"I saw how scared and frightened she was and I didn't have any help towards it. I would have loved to see her in a nursing home in comfort months before she got seriously ill. It's heartbreaking.

"Her standard of life has been really bad over the last two years. Even the day after her death I received the indignity of a letter telling me they had decided her condition was not bad enough to receive full NHS funding.

"She was bedridden, unable to speak, and couldn't move, what do they need? She shouldn't have been in hospital for the last 13 months of her life. We needed her to be somewhere long before she got to the stage that she died."

Mrs Pearce, from Framlingham, was admitted to Ipswich Hospital in April 2004 after a period of falls and ill health. She had also become worryingly forgetful.

She was transferred to Aldeburgh Hospital a month later, where doctors discovered she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which is a brain disorder causing a devastating loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

It was decided the widow should be placed in a care home, but due to a waiting list, Mr Pearce said she had to wait 11 months before a place was found at Mills Meadow in Framlingham.

Mr Pearce claimed by this time, her condition had deteriorated so much that she had to be transferred back to Ipswich Hospital just two months later.

"It got to the point where she could not eat or drink. She had falls in hospital, hitting her head on the toilet seat, and was crying and hallucinating all the time. She was there for two months until the end of May and it was just a waiting place for death," he said.

"I just feel like the NHS is failing elderly people. She should never have been in Aldeburgh Hospital all that time, simply because there was no care home at all. That's the truth. It's a sad way to have ended her life."

In a statement issued by Suffolk County Council, Jane Midwood, its portfolio holder for adult care and community services, said: "I would like to offer my condolences to Mr Pearce.

"I fully understand his frustration with the delays he and his late mother experienced in getting a place in one of the residential homes they had chosen. However, there were significant factors in this case which led to the delays."

A spokesman for social care services added: "Mrs Pearce's increasing care needs during the period concerned were a major contributory factor in why she was not found a place in her chosen residential home sooner.

"It is also the case that in this part of Suffolk, the options available for special needs care, which Mrs Pearce needed, are limited.

"Social care staff try as hard as they can to secure care for customers where they want to be cared for and this was certainly the case for Mrs Pearce. In this case, regrettably, that meant a longer than normal wait for an appropriate place to become available."

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