Nottingham woman, 93, found living in 'squalor'

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Media captionA bag of bread was so out of date that it had turned into dust

A council is investigating how a 93-year-old woman was left to live alone in "shocking" conditions despite carers being paid to look after her.

The woman's plight was discovered by chance when a member of the public gave her a lift home after finding her confused at the side of a road.

She checked on her a few days later and found she had been living in "squalor".

Sevacare, which was contracted to care for the woman by Nottingham City Council, has apologised.

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Image copyright Ursula Norris
Image caption Ursula Norris was so shocked she phoned Nottinghamshire Police

Ursula Norris, who found the 93-year-old at the side of the road on 8 March, was so shocked when she saw the woman's house she phoned the police.

"When I entered the property, that's when it all became apparent that this lady was actually living in the conditions of squalor," she said.

'Rot and mould'

"It was the smell that hit me first. It's nothing you can describe to anybody. You would have had to have smelled it to believe it."

She found bags of rubbish, maggots, piles of out of date food and a rug "just stuck to the floor with rot and mould".

Image copyright Ursula Norris
Image caption Ursula Norris found maggots at the home, but she and a friend have since been cleaning it
Image copyright Ursula Norris
Image caption The 93-year-old woman said she had no living relatives to look after her

Nottinghamshire Police contacted the council and, in a statement, said it is "working closely with the city council's social care team to ensure her living conditions are greatly improved".

Ms Norris and a friend have also been cleaning the house and making daily checks on the woman.

Council 'acted immediately'

Helen Jones, director of adult social care at Nottingham City Council, said: "We were shocked to hear of the conditions this lady had been living in recently and acted immediately once we were informed by the police."

She said the council relies on Sevacare to advise it of any concerns and the agency is contractually-obliged to do this.

"We have been out to visit her and increased her current care levels - we will continue to work with her to ensure her wellbeing into the future," she added.

'Full investigation'

Image caption The Care Quality Commission said Sevacare Nottingham needs to improve in two out of five areas
  • Sevacare has been providing domiciliary care services for Nottingham City Council for five years and currently cares for 183 people
  • A report following a Care Quality Commission inspection in 2015 said improvement was required in two out of five areas - safety and responsiveness
  • The report noted: "Although there were sufficient numbers of staff, there was a high turnover, which impacted on people's views of the quality of service they received."
  • Sevacare was contracted to provide the 93-year-old woman with one two-hour support call and two 15-minute pop-in calls, a week.

In a statement, the Care Quality Commission said: "The CQC has been made aware of concerns surrounding the care of a woman, provided by Sevacare in Nottingham and referred information regarding the concerns to Nottingham City Council under its safeguarding procedures.

"This service was inspected by CQC in September 2015 and received a rating of 'requires improvement' overall. We are monitoring the service very closely and liaising with our colleagues form Nottingham City Council."

'Calls cancelled'

Sevacare said in a statement on Monday: "We are currently working with Nottingham City Council and are in the process of carrying out a full investigation to ensure that we quickly establish the full facts surrounding this case.

"While we do not normally discuss an individual case, we can confirm that our initial investigation has revealed that the service user has full capacity to make her own decisions.

"We have been providing support to this individual since June 2015 by way of one support call per week. Many of these calls have, however, been cancelled at the request of the individual."

In a further statement earlier, Sevacare chief executive Ravi Bains said: "We deeply regret any distress caused to our service user and all those well intentioned individuals who have contacted us to voice their concerns too, it shows we live in a caring society.

"We have put in place additional measures to ensure such issues are less likely to occur in the future, with refresher training at both a local and national level being implemented immediately."

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