A son whose dad died after he received poor care is is calling for improvements to services for the elderly.
The family of John Blenkiron, from Chester-le-Street, who suffered with dementia and Parkinson’s disease, placed him on a short stay in Lindisfarne Care Home in the town, operated by Gainford Care Homes Ltd, for two weeks in March 2011.
But after coming to suspect he was not receiving the standard of care they expected, his sons, John, 45, and Jason, 45, and his wife, Kathleen, 66, decided to take him out of the home early.
The also had concerns he was not receiving the medication he required for his Parkinson’s disease.
After his dad was taken out of the home, John noticed the 63-year-old was suffering from pressure sores on his back and heels, and that his health was deteriorating.
The next morning he was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham when he became unresponsive. The ambulance men who attended were so shocked by his condition they reported the matter as a safeguarding issue.
John Snr spent nearly five weeks in hospital but never regained his mobility. He died at home in May 2011.
John junior said: “My dad was supposed to go into the care home for two weeks to give my mam, who had injured her leg, some much-needed respite.
"Very quickly we realised that the care he was being provided with at the care home was not what we had expected and we were concerned that he was not being given the medication he needed, despite us explaining how important it was he was given it.
“We made the decision to take him out of the home as we could see him deteriorating rapidly. We were also shocked by his condition when we got him home and he was rushed to hospital the next day.
“He never returned to his former self and died in May 2011 and we can’t help but feel that the treatment he was provided at the care home and the absence of his medication during that time contributed to his death."
John and the rest of the family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the quality of care he received at the Lindisfarne Care Home, as they believed that John Snr’s condition had deteriorated significantly during his short stay because the care was not up to the standard they expected and that John was not provided the medication he needed.
Despite Gainford Care Homes Limited denying that the care John received at the home hastened his death, expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now secured the family an undisclosed settlement, which was agreed just minutes before a trial.
Lindsey Henderson, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said: “The last few years have been terrible for the family. Not only did they have to come to terms with the loss of their husband and father, they have had to endure a protracted period of litigation, which could have been avoided.
“While we and John’s family are relieved the case has now been settled, the fact Gainford Care Homes Limited only agreed to settle the case minutes before the trial was due to start, meant the family had to deal with the stress and anxiety of possible court proceedings and simply added insult to injury.
“This was a case where all the evidence indicated that the care home failed to take care of Mr Blenkiron properly. A safeguarding meeting took place as long ago as 2011, which looked in to Mr Blenkiron’s care. The meeting identified failings on the part of the care home at that time.
“We are happy to have settled this case for John’s family and hope that this will finally allow them to draw a line under this terrible ordeal and begin to piece their lives back together after John’s death.”
John Junior added: "“I think it is important that what happened to my dad doesn’t happen to anyone else and that other families don’t have to go through what we have in the last four years. I hope by taking legal action we will ensure care homes are reminded that elderly people should be treated with dignity and respect.”