Care home denies ‘eviction’ of 82-year-old

Eddie Braithwaite
Eddie Braithwaite

A Lancashire care home has denied it is “evicting” an 82-year-old Alzheimer’s patient after claims he wandered off from his room at night and climbed into someone else’s bed.

Eddie Braithwaite’s family have been forced to find him specialist accommodation because the home in Freckleton admits it can no longer look after him due to his “challenging behaviour.”

The case highlights some of the problems that families of dementia sufferers can face when trying to access appropriate care for their loved one.

“It’s been a real struggle getting him in somewhere else,” said son Stephen. “Even though people with Alzheimer’s tend to wander and get disoriented, we’ve been told he can’t stay where he is.”

And the owners of Freckleton Lodge say the former traffic statistics officer for Ribble Bus should never have been admitted to their 28-room home in the first place.

“His needs were not communicated to us fully when he came here,” said Hamish Hayes.

“As private providers we were not able to see his medical records. We didn’t have access to them, so we were not armed with all the information we would have liked.

“Eddie is not being evicted. Absolutely not. We just feel it is in his interests to go to another type of care home where they have clinically trained staff. Somewhere that can cater for that level of challenging behaviour.”

Eddie was admitted to Freckleton Lodge in December after being treated in hospital following a fall. Prior to that he lived with son Stephen and his wife in London Road, Preston.

The home specialises in looking after dementia cases and Eddie’s relatives were happy with the care on offer. But within two weeks they were informed there had been an incident where he had wandered away from his room during the night, became disoriented, walked into the room of a 97-year-old woman.

Shortly after he was involved in another incident with another resident, which resulted in the police being called.

“There were allegations of assault. They told us they operate a zero tolerance policy and he would have to leave,” said Stephen.

“Initially we refused because we didn’t have anywhere else to put him. But now he has been found somewhere else.”

Freckleton Lodge, which has an overall rating of “good” by Care Quality Commission inspectors, insist failings within the care system led to Eddie being given a place there in December.

“There are a couple of active safeguarding cases here and due to that we are unable to comment in detail due to patient confidentiality,” said Mr Hayes, one of the owners.

“But for someone who has been with us less than a month we have a duty of care to assess if we can meet their needs, or if those needs are far greater than we can meet.

“We are not geared up to deal with people with challenging behaviour. We are not the correct environment for that kind of condition. We are not a care facility which is able to restrain people.

“We also have a duty of care to every single person who lives in this building and the people who are employed here.”

The Braithwaite family feared they would not be able to find another home to care for Eddie after what had happened. But now two others have come forward saying they would be prepared to take him. He is expected to be moved this week.

“For a while we thought dad would end up homeless if no-one else would have him,” said Stephen. “He wasn’t ready to come back to live with us and he has been discharged from hospital.

“Because he has a bit of money he is having to pay for his own care, so at first social services didn’t seem interested. He will only become their responsibility when his savings have almost all gone and he’s virtually bankrupt.

“This just shows how old people are treated these days. Dad worked all his life and deserves better.

“Our argument is simply he has Alzheimer’s. Wandering off is what people with his condition do. Yet finding a suitable place for him to be cared for is more difficult than it should be.”

Mr Hayes added: “From the outset we have done as much as we can to help Eddie. But this is outside our capabilities. It’s been very complex.

“Without being privvy to all the necessary information, I can’t see how inappropriate placements will ever stop.

“Eddie wasn’t in the right place for someone with his needs. Now, hopefully, he will be.”

Freckleton Lodge was given an overall rating of “good” in its inspection by the Care Quality Commission less than a year ago.

The family-run business in Preston Old Road, Feckleton, is owned by Karma Health Ltd and is a dementia care home with 28 en suite rooms.

On its website the home says: “Our ethos is to plan and deliver a truly person centred support experience by taking guidance from our residents.

“We feel it is our job to support our residents to live their lives with dignity, fulfilment and respect and ensure this is done in a safe, transparent manner.”

In its most recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission, Freckleton Lodge was rated good when it came to care.

The home had a safeguarding policy in force and staff received safeguarding training.

The report said the CQC inspectors felt “the environment was suitable for people living with dementia.”

County Hall is facing a funding gap of £90m in adult social care by 2020/21.

The sector accounts for more than half of the shortfall of £167m expected across the whole of the Lancashire County Council budget in the next three years.

It is estimated Lancashire will have 273,000 over-65s by the year 2024 - up 11 per cent on current figures. Yet in the last 18 months, 13 car homes have closed in the county, with a loss of 345 much-needed beds.

Despite that more than 70 per cent of care homes in Lancashire are rated as good or outstanding.

LCC’s Conservative leader Coun Geoff Driver says cuts to adult social care across the county would come “mainly from efficiencies.”

He said the council was working hard to protect frontline services while putting its finances “on an even keel.”

But Labour leader Coun Azhar Ali (pictured) said cutting the social care budget was a “retrograde step” and would “target the most vulnerable in society.”

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s affects more than 520,000 people in the UK.

The disease is progressive, starting with mild symptoms and gradually getting more severe.

The most obvious signs are memory loss, in particular remembering recent events and learning new information because the part of the brain affected early on controls day-to-day memory.

The person may lose items like keys or glasses around the house, struggle to find the right word in conversation, forget someone’s name, forget about recent conversations and get lost in a familiar place or trip.

The disease mainly affects people over 65 and, for reasons not totally understood, there are around twice as many women sufferers as men. Many people with dementia feel the urge to walk about or wander, often resulting in problems with orientation which may cause them difficulties trying to find their way home.

New surroundings can trigger feelings of uncertainty in people with dementia, for example when respite or residential care has been arranged, when the person moves to a new house or when they are attending a new day centre. For more information visit www.alzheimers.org,uk, or call the national dementai helpline on 0300 22 11 11