Orchid View resident 'wasn't given the care she deserved'

Image caption Jean Halfpenny, 77, died six months after she was moved into Orchid View

A care home where 19 people died was riddled with "institutionalised abuse", a coroner has told an inquest.

Here, Linzi Collings recalls the poor standards of care her mother received at Orchid View in West Sussex, in the run up to her death in May 2009.

"If she'd lived another four months she would have met her first grandchild," said the daughter of Jean Halfpenny, one of 19 residents who died after she was placed at a nursing home in West Sussex.

Mrs Halfpenny, 77, suffered a major stroke in May 2009 and after spending six months in hospital was moved into the Orchid View care home in Copthorne, near Crawley, on 24 November by her family, who thought it would give her the best level of care that she needed.

She died in hospital on 5 May the following year, from a stroke caused by a blood clot in her brain.

Her health had rapidly deteriorated during her stay at Orchid View, with the inquest into the deaths of all the residents told she had been given three times her regular dose of the blood thinning drug warfarin over the course of 17 days.

'Naked, cold and crying'

"I don't think she would've died when she did if she'd been given the level of care that we'd hoped she'd receive," said Linzi Collings.

"She was on the up when she came out of hospital so we hoped that it would be a period of respite for her in Orchid View.

"The deterioration over that period of time meant my mum was denied that chance to have her life back again."

Ms Collings recalled how her mother had not received any mental or physical stimulation, and the menu was so poor that her sister brought in food to supplement her diet.

"One particular day, my sister arrived and she [my mum] was still in bed at 10am. The curtains were drawn and she hadn't had a drink."

Another time, Mrs Halfpenny was found by a social worker "naked, cold and crying in her bed".

"I think that there had been an occasion where they [the carers] started her bed bath and then got called off somewhere else but hadn't thought about covering her, or reassuring her," Ms Collings said.

'Wasted away'

She added that there were also instances when her mother was left for long periods of time unable to either reach her call bell, or waiting for it to be answered.

"It wasn't a very happy situation for someone who had been very independent, had lived a very full life, had travelled the world, and then was reduced to sitting in bed for large proportions of the day."

Ms Collings said she and her sister, Louise Halfpenny, visited their mother at Orchid View every day but had no idea what was going on.

Image caption Orchid View has since closed and reopened under a new name and new management

"We did see a huge change in that six-month period from really thinking she was in there for a short time to just seeing her waste away physically and mentally.

"She just seemed frail."

Orchid View, which has since closed and reopened under a new name and new management, was run by the now defunct company Southern Cross.

Ms Collings said:"At the beginning of the inquest when they read out one death after another, it seemed amazing that anyone came out of that home alive.

"If you have to take that decision to trust your relative into the care of somebody else... you shouldn't take anything for granted, you shouldn't trust anybody."

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