Woman found covered in faeces at retirement home

A Wellington retirement village is investigating complaints that a patient suffering from Alzheimer's disease and a stroke was found covered in her own faeces three times.

Susan Christian, 43, said her 69-year-old mother, whom she did not want to name, was transferred from Kenepuru Hospital to Malvina Major Retirement Village hospital in the northern suburb of Broadmeadows on June 6 after a stroke that left her paralysed on her right side, unable to walk and with some vision loss.

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Her family looked at other residential hospitals but, as their beds were full, decided on a "premium room" at Malvina Major until a bed became available elsewhere.

When Mrs Christian visited on June 18, she found her mother lying on her bed, naked from the waist down, covered in faeces, with excrement on the wall, pillowcases and her hands.

Her room alarm, triggered by blankets falling on to a sensor mat, was flashing but nobody had come to check on her.

"She was in quite a state," Mrs Christian said. "I was so shocked. I started cleaning up . . . she had managed to get one leg out of her leggings and rip off her nappy, which was full of poo."

The alarm kept flashing for 15 minutes before staff arrived, she said. "They apologised, said she had been given a suppository late and a caregiver had started late. They had to soak mum's hands to get the poo off. It was that dry, it had been there for hours."

Mrs Christian wrote a letter of complaint to the hospital manager, saying: "This is very alarming for us . . . mum is prone to falling and having another stroke . . . why was she not checked on?"

Village manager Jamie Preston wrote to her on June 24, admitting her mother had been found in an "unkempt, poor state, found to be due to non-attendance and checking by the caregiver . . . following her being given suppositories or enemas".

"We have now put in place regular checks of your mother, which are increased around the time we administer suppositories or enemas," he wrote.

Mr Preston promised to implement frequent checks of her mother to "get it right".

About a fortnight ago, Mrs Christian was changing her mother and discovered skin peeling between her legs. She removed a sodden nappy and a caregiver told her "she sat in a wet nappy too long".

She visited again on Saturday afternoon and found her mother in a chair in the corner of a lounge, with staff in another room nearby.

"I could smell the stench of faeces as I entered the room," she said. "I went over to mum and my heart dropped. There was shit all over her chair, up her arms, in a room full of people.

"I was so angry and upset. I spoke to the clinical manager, who said she was sorry, would check her more often. I think they are giving her suppositories and just leaving her."

Mrs Christian returned again on Sunday, to find her mother sitting in the lounge with faeces seeping into her chair.

She described the care of her mother as "disgusting".

"They sold us a dream, promised the best possible care. It has been so degrading for mum and caused our family so much stress. Mum's health has deteriorated. She has gone from asking to go to the toilet to just sitting in shit."

Ryman Healthcare NZ general manager Simon Challies said he was aware of the latest incident at Malvina Major. "We are not very happy at all. If that has been her experience, it is not acceptable, we need to do something about it."

He would not comment further until the case had been investigated by a regional manager and acted on.

Mrs Christian is meeting Ohariu MP Peter Dunne and has contacted a health and disability commission advocate to set up a resolution meeting.

Previous cases that have gone to the commission have raised concerns about a lack of publicly accessible reports on rest-home care.

The Dominion Post