Nursing Home Criticized After Busy Staff Left Fallen Woman on Floor for 7 Minutes

A nursing home in Hastings, East Sussex, is being criticized after an elderly woman with dementia fell and was left on the floor for a full seven minutes.

Colwyn House Lifecare, a high-dependency rest home, says they have been understaffed, and that was the reason for the incident. There simply wasn’t someone available to help the woman right away, because the staff members were all busy with other patients and tasks.

However, critics are saying there’s no excuse for the staff’s lack of compassion for the woman. On top of the possibility that she could have been injured, she was also left in a rather embarrassing and immodest state, with her skirt hiked up nearly to her waist.

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Not only was the woman not helped up or provided any medical assistance while she was on the floor, she also was not offered a pillow or anything else to help keep her comfortable while she waited to be helped up.

The woman was left completely alone for two minutes while the staff member she was with went to seek help. According to a report, the staff member showed no signs of urgency or concern for the patient’s wellbeing during the incident. She did not hold the woman’s hand or offer any physical contact to comfort her. After the incident, the woman’s doctor was not informed about it.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall have been investigating the situation using CCTV video footage as their evidence. They found that just two staff members were caring for all 20 patients in the wing at the time the woman fell.

Photo: Adobe Stock/jovannig

Wall says a staff member displayed poor judgment when she decided to transfer the vulnerable woman to her room alone, without assistance, knowing that she is unsteady on her feet and prone to falls. Her care plan even states that she requires two people to move her. The error of judgment resulted in the fall.

“It irrefutably shows a poor standard of care to a particularly vulnerable consumer who was unlikely to be capable of bringing the concerning event to the attention of others herself,” says Wall.

Photo: Adobe Stock/toa555

The staff member who attempted to transport the woman was not properly trained in fall safety. The rest home could also not provide evidence that she had had dementia-specific care training.

The report also found that the rest home is the subject of an ongoing inquiry by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

The company has stated that it “severely regrets” the incident and has agreed to take all of the Deputy Commissioner’s recommendations on board, including providing a written update on steps taken to reduce staff shortage, reviewing its policies on training and falls, and apologizing to the woman and her family.

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