Doris Ridgway’s son, Philip, took the image above of his mother, on discovering her comatose. Other graphic images of Doris’ injuries are considered too shocking for publication.
Local residents, Philip and Paul Ridgway, say care home staff left their dementia-suffering mother covered in bruises, comatose and lying in her own excrement for two days before calling a doctor – after she suffered a head injury – which resulted in her death.
Philip, 72, of Crompton Road, Macclesfield and brother, Paul, of Cedarway, Bollington, believe staff at Weston Park Care Home in Macclesfield neglected their mother before her death on April 15, 2018, and want police to re-open an investigation into what happened.
Addressing an inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court, retired bricklayer Philip said he had been to visit his mother on Thursday when she seemed happy and well, but returned on Sunday to find her shockingly ill and unable to speak.
He told the court: “I went to see her on Thursday 5th April, 2018, and she was fine, she recognised me and was happily chatting. I went back at lunchtime the following Sunday and found her lying in bed, on her back, covered in bruises. The staff usually call us if she has a scratch on her face – but they never rang.”
“I asked a nurse what on earth had happened and she said she’d walked into a door, that she’d seen a doctor – and the doctor would be coming back in the morning.”
“I asked about CCTV but was told the home’s system wasn’t working – this later proved to be untrue.”
“When I went on the Monday she was still in the same position, on her back, with matted eyes and lips. I was in shock. Then I found out the doctors hadn’t been. Imagine how that made me feel.”
On day three of the inquest, shocking images emerged of Doris’ injuries, showing the former medicine packer with heavy bruising on her face and arms, a swollen eye that could not open, parched lips and serious cuts to her hands and fingers.*
Following his discovery of his comatose mother Philip chose to stay at the home, in his mother’s room, until she died five days later.
“I decided I couldn’t leave my mother and stayed with her for the next five nights, It was chaos from around 11 pm until 1 am. There were probably two members of staff for 50 residents and I found one of them asleep. I was frightened of leaving mum alone.”
Philip, who has only recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer, said he was told by a member of staff that a doctor had been called after his mother’s fall. That member of staff denied this, but has since, following an investigation of the abuse of Doris and another resident, resigned from the home.
Iain Simkin, representing the home, told the inquest that the bruises on the pensioner’s face were a result of a fall, captured on the home’s CCTV system.
Mr Ridgway’s claims that the video footage is inconclusive saying “There were two cameras in the lounge where she fell but it appears only one camera, at the far side of the lounge, was working. Footage from that camera shows mum falling behind a chair, it doesn’t show her striking her head.”
Philip and Paul believe their mother must have suffered a second trauma to cause her injuries – as both the nurse and carers who attended to her, following her fall, stated in evidence that Doris displayed no bruising to her face following her fall. When the senior nurse went off-shift at 8 am – some seven hours post-fall – the nurse told the court there was still no bruising – nor did he see any bruising the following evening when he worked the evening shift again.
Consultant pathologist, Dr Sally-Ann Hales, said there was no evidence of a second injury.
Detective Paul Hughes, from Cheshire Police, told the inquest that there was no evidence of criminality because Doris’ injuries were consistent with her fall at 1.15 am on the morning of Saturday April 7 – captured on CCTV footage – although Detective Hughes stated under questioning that he couldn’t recall ever seeing the video.
A senior police officer who reviewed Sergeant Hughes’ report concluded there wasn’t a case for criminal neglect as Mrs Ridgway had been seen by a doctor on the day of her fall.
This officer’s statement was incorrect as Doris fell at 1.15 am on Saturday 7th April – but wasn’t seen by a GP until 2 pm the following Monday (9th April) – some 60 hours after her fall.
Granville Sellars, speaking on behalf of Philip and Paul, told coroner Claire Welch: ‘We believe that those entrusted with Doris’ welfare failed to provide her with adequate protection or even the most basic care. They failed to ensure she was provided with the most basic medical attention. We believe Weston Park Care Home failed to take responsive action in order to keep her safe and failed to meet her needs and in their duty of care and neglect contributed to her death.”
Dr Elizabeth Paterson, the GP who eventually visited Doris, said that although a doctor should have been called after the fall, it would be unlikely this would have led to her being transferred to hospital.
“A trip to the hospital wouldn’t have reversed the fact that she was in the final days of her life,” Dr Paterson said.
Delivering a narrative verdict, the coroner found a number of factors contributed to Doris’ death including that she was also living with breast cancer. A deep vein thrombosis had been caused by a head injury days before her death.
The coroner considered that the home had failed to procure basic medical attention for Doris and this could be categorized as a gross failure.
Speaking after the verdict, Philip said: ‘We still want the police to reopen the case. They haven’t investigated, they’ve failed in their duty and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
‘I’m sure if it was one of their mothers they would investigate. I have nothing to lose now. I don’t want any money. I just don’t want anyone else to go through what we have.”
Doris’ husband, Albert, served during the D-Day landings before contracting polio while working as a butcher.
This led to him being confined to Moss Lane Isolation Hospital, which became Weston Park Care Home. He recovered and continued to work as a butcher before dying on a holiday in Blackpool in 1993.
Doris went to Weston Park Care Home in 2016, which was passed on to new owners several months later.
Speaking after the inquest, Weston Park Care Home said minimum legal requirements for staffing had been met during Doris’ stay.
A spokesman added: “The safety and wellbeing of residents is our top priority. Mrs Ridgway’s passing was a matter of deep upset to everyone who knew her.”
“As soon as staff were made aware of Mrs Ridgway’s fall, which was captured on the home’s CCTV, she was assessed by trained nurses before being helped to bed. A GP was later called to the home.”
“As Mrs Ridgway was on end-of-life care due to a number of pre-existing medical decisions, the GP decided not to admit her to hospital and she was instead cared for by the care home nursing staff, who remained with her until she passed.”
“As the Coroner ruled in her narrative verdict, the timing of medical attention received ‘did not cause or contribute’ to her passing. Our thoughts remain with Mrs Ridgway’s loved ones at this difficult time.”
*ilovemacc has been provided with the images shown to the court, but they are considered too shocking and distressing to be published online.