Leeds & West Yorkshire

Woman 'kept away from dying mother' in care home

A woman who was kept from seeing her dying mother in a care home has spoken of her devastation, after those responsible were criticised.

The woman, who has not been named, was estranged from her mother but wanted to visit her when she heard she was ill.

Staff at the West Yorkshire care home prevented visits because they said it might upset the elderly woman.

Leeds City Council and Leeds Community Healthcare Trust have agreed to apologise and pay £5,000 compensation.

It comes after criticism from the Local Government Ombudsman.

In her report, the ombudsman Anne Seex said the woman, referred to as Ms B, was deprived "of the opportunity to speak with her mother before they were separated forever by death".

She said Ms B was "made to hand over a Christmas gift outside the home and made to wait for over a month for the council's processes before finally being told that she could see her mother".

The report said by the time the council assessment was done and Ms B was told she could visit, her 78-year-old mother had had a stroke and was unable to recognise or communicate with her. She died the next day.

Ms B told the BBC: "Three years down the line I am just as sad now as I was then. It's just shocking from start to finish.

"I was devastated to find out that the council had no right to refuse me access to see my mum. Absolutely shocked.

"They treated me like a pariah."

Ms B was prevented from visiting her mother after her brother alleged that she might take their mother from the care home or upset her.

'Lessons learned'

He withdrew the allegations a week later but Ms B was told she still could not see her mother.

She said: "If the council enabled me to see my mum I could have spent the last seven weeks of her life with her and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that I could have sat down with my brother and found a level of resolution with him."

She said she was now considering taking legal action against the council.

Sandie Keene, director of adult social services at the council, said a review had found an "isolated series of errors and misjudgements" and the authority had "learned a number of important lessons in communication, training and management".

"We accept the findings in the report and its recommendations in full," Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS trust, said.

"I am reassured that the ombudsman recognises that we acted quickly to make improvements and deal with the issues raised."

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