'Left to rot away' - Maggots found living in care home resident's hand

Murieal Bassinder, who has been a resident at Oulton Park care home in Lowestoft for three years.

Murieal Bassinder, who has been a resident at Oulton Park care home in Lowestoft for three years. - Credit: Heidi Pither

A great-grandmother was left "neglected" in her care home for so long maggots were found living in a hole in her hand, her daughter has claimed.

The family of Murieal Bassinder say they fear the shock of moving the 88-year-old out of Oulton Park care home, on Union Lane, Lowestoft, could kill her.

The mother-of-four, who lived in Halesworth before moving to the home three years ago, was previously diagnosed with dementia.

Murieal Bassinder at Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft.

Murieal Bassinder at Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft. - Credit: Heidi Pither

The latest Care Quality Commission inspection at the home, published earlier this month, rated their service as inadequate, including in key aspects such as safety, responsiveness and being well-led.

Her daughter Heidi Pither said: "We were unable to look after her but accepted she would be well looked after. Instead she has been neglected all the way.


You may also want to watch:


"They rang me the other week to say they had found maggots in her hand, which is clenched shut.

"They are meant to wash her, but her fingernails had grown so long they had gauged into her skin, which became infected, and she keeps putting her hands to her mouth thinking she is eating.

Murieal Bassinder before she moved to Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft.

Murieal Bassinder before she moved to Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft. - Credit: Heidi Pither

Most Read

"For someone to leave her like this is inhumane. She has been left to rot away."

A spokesperson for Barchester Healthcare, who run the home, said they could not comment on individual cases, but added steps had been taken to make sure this was an isolated incident.

Miss Pither also claims the grandmother-of-11 is often "locked away" from other residents, and has been left in bed for so long her legs have "locked together."

She said: "Her personal hygiene is appalling. She has been left in soiled nappies and her hair is matted.

Heidi Pither and mum Murieal Bassinder.

Heidi Pither and mum Murieal Bassinder. - Credit: Heidi Pither

"We wanted to put a spy-camera in her room because some of her things are missing, but she can't move them around."

She added: "She has now been moved to the rich, 'China teacup' side of the home so she can be cared for with dignity for the rest of her days.

"Apologies are not good enough. They are at fault and they know it. 

Murieal Bassinder at Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft.

Murieal Bassinder at Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft. - Credit: Heidi Pither

"They need to be disgraced so hopefully they pull their socks up and no one else's parent goes through this."

The Barchester Healthcare spokesperson said "not all" of the claims made were true, although did not say which ones when challenged.

They added: "Nonetheless, we take this case extremely seriously and the authorities were immediately alerted.

"Immediate and ongoing action has been taken to ensure this remains an isolated incident and the resident, and all our residents, receive the highest quality of care going forward."

The unannounced CQC inspection, which was carried out on June 30, placed the service in special measures and highlighted a number of issues with the service, which cares for up to 60 residents.

Among its findings, it noted residents did not have access to "sufficient sources of meaningful engagement," leaving them at risk of social isolation.

The report adds: "People were not always protected from identified risks because staff did not follow care planning."

After the inspection, the report confirms action had been taken by the home to address the identified concerns, adding: "This includes putting in place one-to-one staff to better supervise people who had frequent episodes of emotional distress."

An inspection of the service in December 2019 rated the home as requiring improvement, including in the three areas now classed as inadequate.

CQC inspectors will now continue to monitor information and say they will return to re-inspect if they receive any "concerning information."

If "significant" improvements are not made within six months, the CQC could begin the process of preventing Barchester Healthcare from operating Oulton Park.

Staffing issues

The CQC report raised concerns about staffing numbers at the home, which has had eight registered managers since 2013.

The report states: "There were not sufficient numbers of staff deployed to support people at the time they required it, to provide adequate supervision, and to reduce the risk of people becoming socially isolated.

"Comments made by people using the service, relatives and staff supported our observations that there were not enough staff to support people.

"This was evident on the unit for people living with dementia, some of whom displayed distressed behaviours and required regular emotional support.

"We observed people using the service were left for extended periods of time without staff being present in the area or checking on them.

"We observed during these times that staff were very busy and were supporting other people who required care in their bedrooms or other parts of the unit."

Following the inspection, Barchester confirmed further staff had been deployed to ensure residents' needs were met.

Murieal Bassinder before she was moved into Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft.

Murieal Bassinder before she was moved into Oulton Park Care Home in Lowestoft. - Credit: Heidi Pither

Dementia concerns

The report also raised concerns about the lack of meaningful engagement with residents with dementia.

"People told us there was not sufficient activities or sources of meaningful engagement available to them.

"The registered manager told us the main member of activities staff had resigned and they were currently recruiting. This left one other staff member who provided 22 hours of activities a week.

"We observed people were disengaged and largely left alone during our inspection with little contact from staff.

"On the dementia unit, people walked around the home and picked up items like CDs, but there were no more suitable items for them to access independently.

"People living with dementia can benefit from having free access to 'tactile items' or sensory items. Meaningful engagement for people living with dementia can reduce the risk of them becoming emotionally distressed."

Heidi Pither with mum Murieal Bassinder.

Heidi Pither with mum Murieal Bassinder. - Credit: Heidi Pither

'Concerning and alarming'

Waveney MP Peter Aldous urged any concerned residents or families to get in touch with him as he plans to liaise with the CQC over their report.

He said: "This report is extremely concerning and alarming.

"I will be talking to the CQC to go through their report in detail and they will make sure there are arrangements in place to ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

"They must be satisfied a good standard of care has been instigated and if they do not believe that has happened then they will take pretty drastic steps to ensure this incident is not repeated.

"If any residents or their families have concerns, I would like to hear from them to take these up."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter