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Grandmother, 85, tried to take her own life twice at ‘inadequate’ care home

PUBLISHED: 06:30 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 09 January 2019

Brenda Bass and Clare Hollis. CLARE HOLLIS

Brenda Bass and Clare Hollis. CLARE HOLLIS

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An 85-year-old grandmother says she has twice tried to take her own life after serious concerns went unanswered at a care home rated inadequate.

Ritson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick ButcherRitson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick Butcher

Ritson Lodge resident Brenda Bass claims she has been left wearing soiled incontinence pads for several hours after a lack of staff left the home without female carers.

Mrs Bass’ family have also spoken about their own experiences of the home.

Granddaughter Clare Hollis, 35, said: “She has tried to kill herself twice. I was on holiday the first time and they hadn’t phoned an ambulance.

“It took over an hour for me to get back here and when I arrived they’d shut the door and left her alone.

“They said there was not enough staff to stay and it was her choice what she did with her life.

“They claimed they were investigating but nothing has ever happened about it.”

The Hopton care home was rated inadequate by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in a report earlier this week, with a heavy reliance on agency staff and a number of carers leaving highlighted as concerns.

A spokesman for Ritson Lodge’s parent company Barchester said they were investigating the claims and vowed to ensure the “highest level of care” is provided to residents.

Ritson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick ButcherRitson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick Butcher

Mrs Hollis said: “She is not incontinent but she needs to use pads because there are not enough staff to take her to the toilet.

“When she first came in she was able to go to the toilet, but then it became unsafe and they now use a hoist, but they had the wrong one at first and she was screaming the place down in agony, but it took them nearly a fortnight to get it fixed.”

Mrs Bass, whose husband died aged 64, refuses to be seen by a male carer, saying “my husband is the only man in my life”, meaning she has been left unchanged at times where the home has only been staffed by two male carers.

Mrs Hollis, from Beccles, said: “I have been asking for her care plan for over a year but they refuse to show us.

Ritson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick ButcherRitson Lodge, in Hopton, which has been rated as inadequate by the CQC. Photo: Nick Butcher

“She has lost 13kg and I want to see the notes to see how and why, but they will not show me.

“I want to be able to see what medication she is on so a doctor can review it, but it is not happening.

“They are not looking after her and her health is deteriorating.

“We have been fighting this for a year. She should have had to sign a care plan and it should have been made with the family because we were her previous carers.”

Official opening of Ritson Lodge a new care home in Hopton.Official opening of Ritson Lodge a new care home in Hopton.

Mrs Bass, who is originally from Romford but lived in Beccles prior to moving to the care home, has previously phoned police and ambulance services after being left for long periods of time.

She was also taken to hospital last year after being made to wait several days to be checked for a suspected chest infection, which was later found to be pneumonia.

She also refuses to eat the food provided, while kitchen staff claim they are unable to reheat or reseal food brought in by her family.

Mrs Hollis said: “I have brought in some chicken dippers and they served her all 24 in the packet with nothing else, because they wouldn’t reseal it, and on Christmas we had to bring our microwave into her room so she could have her dinner.”

The Barchester spokesman said: “We respect the privacy of the individual involved and their personal and financial circumstances.

“We want to make sure we investigate the claims that have been made thoroughly, as our team focus on improving the home with the support and feedback of residents and relatives involved.

“We recently held a meeting with residents and relatives of the home to discuss the Care Quality Commission (CQC) report to outline the ways in which we will change things for the better, and underline our commitment to delivering these improvements, which are incorporated into a clear plan of action.

“Our sole focus is the health and wellbeing of our residents and our colleagues.”

Staff praised

The CQC report, published on New Year’s Day, acknowledged praise given to the staff by residents.

Mrs Bass said: “I absolutely cannot fault the girls that look after me in any way. They are really good. How they keep their patience I do not know. They are working from 7am until 8pm most days without a break or a cup of tea.

“What sort of a place does that? The staff are knackered and aren’t supported. In the summer they come in covered in sweat because they are running around so much.

“All of the good ones are leaving. I would if I was them because they’re on their own and struggling.

“It is time something was done. I have all of my marbles and I want to help people.”

Mrs Hollis said: “We got her a wheelchair so she could keep her independence, but because they’re so short staffed they can’t take her anywhere in it. She is bed bound.”

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