A grieving family whose dying elderly mother spent months in agony because of her care home’s neglect has welcomed Southern Cross Healthcare’s admission of liability.

The healthcare giant, which operates 730 care homes across the United Kingdom, has admitted it was negligent in causing Betty Delaney to develop painful bed sores and suffer with them for months before she died, and has agreed to pay compensation to her family.

Mrs Delaney, 82, resided in the Southern Cross-operated Oakland care home in Rochdale, Lancashire. In October 2008 she was transferred from the care home to hospital as her mental condition had deteriorated and her behaviour had become erratic.

Stage 4 bedsores

When she was admitted to hospital it was discovered that during her time at the care home she had developed excruciating bed sores in four places, including her back, her left groin and her heels. Two of the bedsores were assessed as being stage four, which suggests she had suffered with them for a considerable period of time.

Betty Delaney’s son, Stephen Blakesley, says the bed sores meant his elderly mother spent months in agony as her life drew to a close. “It was an absolute, abject miserable time for her,” he says. “Every time we saw her she was crying. She spent the last few months at Oakland in obvious misery, which the home told us was simply because of her deteriorating mental health. At no time did the care home inform us of the presence of bed sores.”

“The staff at the hospital where mum was transferred were absolutely stunned when they found the bed sores, the Sister said it was the worst case of neglect she’d ever seen. I hate to think that if she hadn’t been transferred she would have died in that miserable home.”

Bedsores could have been easily avoided

Sian Thompson from Thompsons Solicitors, which represented the family, says she is pleased Southern Cross has admitted liability.

“Southern Cross could have easily prevented Mrs Delaney’s bedsores by putting her on a pressure mattress, turning her and checking on her regularly and having a risk assessment in place. Not only did they fail to do this, they failed to even detect there was a problem. This negligence caused Mrs Delaney and her family to suffer terribly.”

“This case highlights the way our elderly are so often forgotten about,” says Thompson. “Betty Delaney should never have been put through this indignity, and while no amount of compensation can change that fact we hope Southern Cross’ admission of liability has at least brought some closure for her family.”

Betty Delaney died of an unrelated condition in January 2010.

This news story was also published by Mirror.co.uk.