Rest-home death: son speaks out

REST FACILITY: The Wiltshire Lifecare Home and Hospital in Rangiora.
REST FACILITY: The Wiltshire Lifecare Home and Hospital in Rangiora.

An elderly man suffering from urine scald and bedsores died a day after arriving at Christchurch Hospital from a rest home that has recently been take over by the district health board.

The 80-year-old man died in Christchurch Hospital on July 31.

He had been living at Wiltshire Lifecare in Rangiora for three months.

In the second week of July the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) appointed a temporary manager to the facility after receiving nine formal complaints since 2010.

The man's son spoke to The Press about his father's death so "other families don't have to go through" what his family did.

He believed his father died of kidney failure and infection.

The man's son, who did not wish to be named and only wanted his dad to be known as Jack, said the family came up against "continual problems" at the rest home.

The family was unhappy about the quality of care Jack received.

"We can't bring him back but we can try and see the systems at Wiltshire changed so other families don't have to go through this."

He said he understood his father was frail and elderly but did not think the last days of his life were "comfortable or pleasant".

"My sister was the first one to get to the hospital and she was really upset at the condition he was in. He had urine scald [redness and irritation caused by urine] and bedsores, and when I saw him the staff at the hospital said the state of the sheet [that was wrapped around him] was absolutely disgusting and they were shocked - you could tell they were shocked."

The man believed his father's room was cold, the facility was dirty and the food was "pretty awful".

"We had issues around his clothes going missing. My mum and I both bought him clothes, but when we visited he wouldn't be in his own gear. He would be wearing ill-fitting summer clothes that were someone else's, and he was never warm enough," he said.

Earlier this year, Jack suffered from a stroke and the Canterbury DHB placed him at Wiltshire.

In a letter sent to The Press from Wiltshire, a staff member said things were "getting worse, not better".

"People are still getting bedsores, they are still losing weight and the food is still of minimal standards," the letter said.

The staff member, who did not wish to be named, claimed residents were neglected, money often went missing and the facility was "filthy".

"Call bells are taken away and tied to the rails outside the patients' rooms so they cannot use them."

There had been more than one scabies outbreak, the letter alleged.

However, another family member of a Wiltshire resident, who also did not wish to be named, said there had been some improvements since the temporary manager started.

"Communication still isn't great, but it's much cleaner and the food has got a bit better too."

The man, whose grandmother lives at Wiltshire, believed people were too scared to be named in the media.

"The DHB won't always be running that place so what happens when they leave and we've all been named and shamed? What would they do to our relatives then? That's the concern for all of us."

Margaret Busby, the owner of Wiltshire Lifecare, yesterday denied claims of neglect and lack of care.

She said there was an incident where some money had gone missing and a call

bell had been removed from one patient's room.

The missing money had been repaid, she said. "[They are] isolated incidents that were rectified once they were discovered."

Busby said Wiltshire had implemented a "range of improvements".

Extra staff, including a cleaner and new clinical manager, had been appointed, she said.

Canterbury DHB chief medical officer of health Nigel Millar said the contract for the temporary manager had been extended until the end of this month.

The board would not comment further until the audit had been finalised.

The Press