'He'll stay at home and die' - daughter of man forced into care home by council
PUBLISHED: 09:42 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:51 15 February 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
A woman whose father was admitted against his will into a failing care home and had his home care package cancelled said the situation is an abuse of his human rights.
Richard May, 75, is currently undergoing temporary care at home.
But daughter Clare May fears for his future and said he is adamant he won’t go back into a home, insisting he would “stay at home and die” if permanent home care can not be provided.
Mr May was discharged from a Norfolk hospital into Highfield Care Home, in Cromer, last year, despite his “unwavering wish” to live at home.
His daughter, police officer Clare May, said her “already vulnerable father” had been caused “an immense amount of distress” and she was “appalled” at the situation.
And North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has condemned Norfolk County Council (NCC) for their “dereliction of duty”, and said Mr May - who previously ran Mundesley, West Runton and Wells Coastwatch stations - and his daughter had been “let down”.
It comes as the home, rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in August last year, was forced to close after the council withdrew its contract.
A council spokesman said they were working “around the clock to secure a long-term care solution.”
They added that Mr May had not been left without care, but was being looked after in his own home by “our specialist, highly trained Norfolk First Support service,” who offer care for up to six weeks.
The former merchant navy captain, who lives alone in Sidestrand, and suffers from the rare brain disorder, progressive supranuclear palsy, fell ill in March 2018 with sepsis, pneumonia and kidney failure.
He was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for a six-week stay, where Miss May, 48, said: “He was consistent throughout - he wouldn’t go into residential care.”
But to her shock, her father was subsequently discharged into the Cromer home, despite saying he had not given his consent.
Mr May returned to his home in August and began receiving a home care package funded by the council, who provided two carers.
But on Friday, February 8, Miss May said the council notified them they could no longer provide her father with care, and would withdraw the care package from Monday, February 11.
She said: “They gave us two working days notice of a fait accompli. They said: ‘We can’t provide him with any other care, he’ll have to go into a care home.’
“He’s very distressed and feels completely out of control.
“He’s written a ‘do not resuscitate’ and a directive saying he won’t leave the house and won’t go into hospital.
“If social services can’t provide care, that means he’ll stay at home and die. It’s been horrendous.”
Miss May, from Aylsham, and a family friend, took her father’s case to Mr Lamb.
The MP has been working with the family to resolve the ongoing criticisms of Mr May’s care.
He said: “James Bullion, chief executive of adult social services at the county council has offered to meet with Clare to discuss her father’s case further.
“However Miss May insists the council should deliver the care package for her father.”
Miss May added: “This has never just been about my father, but all vulnerable elderly persons who have an absolute right to choose to remain in their own homes.
“The whole situation has caused my already vulnerable father an immense amount of distress and affected him and his family.
“My father’s unwavering wish is to live at home. He has been repeatedly assessed as suitable for supported home care.
“We are simply asking Norfolk County Council and the NHS to support us in providing adequate care and meet medical needs.
“We ask them to do so with respect, observing his dignity rights and wishes.
“I cannot begin to describe how stressful this entire scenario has been. Living with the uncertainty of whether all care will cease, because it cannot be sourced, with indescribable consequences, has been almost too much to bear.
“It appals me that any family or vulnerable individual is faced with this in 2019.”
A county council spokesman said: “This is a situation where a care agency has handed back a complex care case.
“Like many rural counties we face a shortage in carers but the council works hard to encourage and support more home care providers to work in our county.
“We have significantly increased funding for this type of care, and are participating in a national recruitment campaign to promote Norfolk as a place to work.
“Where we are unable to find home care due to market shortages, we offer residential or respite care as an alternative.”
‘It sets a very disturbing precedent’ - MP Norman Lamb to county council
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has condemned the council for their “dereliction of duty”.
Mr Lamb said: “There is a fundamental issue at stake here - if a conclusion is reached that someone can be cared for at home, which is the case here, then it must be their right to stay at home if that is what they want.
“It sets a very disturbing precedent for the council to attempt to force someone out of their home by unilaterally declaring care will be withdrawn.
“This is outrageous. I have been aware of this case for a long while and I am appalled that my elderly constituent has been put in this position.
“Richard May and his daughter have been let down. It should have been possible to organise an appropriate care package by now.
“I am calling on the council to act immediately to ensure Mr May is given the care he is entitled to and deserves.
“This has been deeply distressing - it is now time for action and a resolution.”
‘It’s nothing to do with the CQC’ - manager of care home forced to close
The failing care home Mr May was discharged into - allegedly against his will - has now been forced to close.
Norfolk County Council (NCC) withdrew its contract from Highfield Care Home, in Cromer, after a damning Care Quality Commission report published in August last year rated the home inadequate.
Residents were found to be soiling themselves and at risk of choking and pressure ulcers, inspectors found.
And the St Mary’s Road home was said to have “consistently failed to sustain improvements” after previous inspection failings.
Manager Kanapathipillai Thavapalasundaram said the move was not connected to the negative report.
He said: “The council cancelled the contract. It’s nothing to do with the CQC.”
A council spokesman said: “Since we were no longer confident the home could maintain a good quality service, we have worked with residents and relatives and identified appropriate alternative care.”
‘We are working around the clock’ - response from the county council
A Norfolk County Council (NCC) spokesman said: “We have ensured Mr May has not been without care.
“We are continuing to work around the clock to secure a long-term care solution.
“To ensure there has been no interruption to the care he needs - and that he remains safe - Mr May is receiving care in his own home directly from our specialist, highly trained NFS service.
“We are providing this after we contacted more than thirty care agencies and were unable to find one that could provide the two carers Mr May needs - and after Mr May declined residential respite care as an alternative.
“We completely understand Mr May wants to stay in his own home. We know how important independence is to the majority of people, and we do everything we can to support this.
“We are continuing to contact care agencies to secure appropriate home care and ensure that Mr May continues to remain safe and gets the care he needs.”