Wales

Inquiry call over Veronica Teal nursing home abuse

  • 1 May 2014
  • From the section Wales

Calls have been made for an investigation into the verbal abuse and neglect of an elderly woman at a mid Wales nursing home.

Veronica Teal's family installed secret cameras in the 72-year-old's room at the Bethshan Nursing Home in Newtown, Powys after concerns of her treatment.

The footage showed her being verbally abused and not having her basic needs met.

An employee has been disciplined and the home said it regretted the abuse.

Mrs Teal moved into the home, owned by the Pentecostal Hope Church, in November 2013.

She had suffered a stroke 20 years previously but had lived independently since and it was only when she was unable to transfer herself from her bed to her wheelchair that she moved to Bethshan Nursing Home.

But just days after she had moved in, her daughter Sam and son Mark became concerned that something was not right about the care their mother was receiving.

Veronica Teal has dysphasia, which means that though she has full mental capacity she cannot communicate clearly.

'Inconsolable'

Sam Teal explained: "We moved her on the Friday and I remember looking at her when she came in and she looked so utterly heartbroken.

"I assumed it would just be teething problems. But it was the Monday after, when I got there and she was absolutely inconsolable."

Ms Teal said she spoke to staff about her mother's treatment but was unhappy at their response so the family decided to install a camera in her room with her consent.

As the family watched the recordings, they were horrified by the way their mother was dealt with by some members of staff.

One carer was seen saying to her: "You have lost 10lbs in the last two weeks and you will die. Do you want to die?

"Are you so selfish that you would allow your children to go through that? You wanting to starve yourself to death?

"Snap out of it, you're selfish. Eat that food. I have no time for people like you."

Bethshan Nursing Home
The home trustees said they 'deeply regretted' the verbal abuse

On a separate occasion the same carer said to Mrs Teal: "Excuse me, do not speak to me with that tone of voice. Don't be so rude. You want to starve yourself to death, go ahead, your choice."

On another day the footage showed that Mrs Teal's catheter bag was not emptied for 26 hours which left her in significant pain. The home said staff would undergo training to ensure this did not happen again.

Although there were also some good examples of care, Ms Teal said watching the footage was distressing and they contacted social services about the matter.

Six weeks later Mrs Teal was placed in another home.

'Deep regret'

Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: "To actually tell somebody that they've no time for patients, or patients like them or residents like them, is unacceptable in my book and I would hope that the management of that nursing home are fully investigated.

"Even from my own perspective I will be contacting the care council in Wales to ask them to look into the matter.

"I think when someone is placed in a care home you expect care to be delivered in a dignified and caring manner... if there is a perception of poor care the first port of call has to be the care home management and they have to be listened to," Ms Donnelly added.

In a statement to BBC Wales, the trustees of Bethshan Nursing Home said they deeply regretted the verbal abuse and that the member of staff involved had been disciplined and was undergoing further training.

They said they had provided excellent care for the elderly for many years and through the hard work and commitment of their staff they endeavour to give high-quality care.

The outcome of a protection of vulnerable adults investigation, which was launched by social services following the allegations of verbal abuse, will be shared with the family on Friday.

  • Anyone with care concerns can contact the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales helpline on 0300 7900 126.

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