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Family angry as Buttershaw mum, 82, slips away from care home
An investigation has been ordered by owners of a Bradford care home into how an 82-year-old woman suffering from dementia was able to slip away unnoticed in the middle of the night and ended up in hospital.
May Thirkill was found hurt on a pavement at 1am after falling in rain, smashing her glasses and hearing aids, said daughter Christine Lappage.
Mrs Lappage said if it was not for the Good Samaritan couple who called an ambulance, her mother could have died.
The unknown couple had comforted her until paramedics took her to Bradford Royal Infirmary where she was treated for a badly-bruised face.
Mrs Lappage said: “Mum gave the hospital her name and they contacted Emily Court asking if she was one of their patients. They answered that she was but she was tucked up in bed. The A&E staff then had to ask them to check her bed and of course she wasn’t there.
“If it hadn’t been for that couple finding her, she could have been left lying there for hours in the belting down rain. She could have died.”
Mrs Lappage said her mother had got out of bed, put clothes on over her pyjamas and had managed to get out through a fire exit without triggering an alarm “They had no idea she had got out,” said Mrs Lappage who is now considering taking legal action against the care home owned by Yorkshire Housing Association, which states on its website that it specialises in dementia care.
Mrs Lappage said after talks with the home the family was told someone must have gone out of the fire exit for a smoke and failed to switch the alarm on. She said: “That’s unacceptable and puts all residents’ in their care at risk. We paid for our mother to be looked after and she wasn’t. It’s as simple as that.”
Mrs Lappage, 57, and her sister Patricia Cooper, 59, had visited Emily Court before she went to stay for two weeks and said they had been reassured there would be no chance of their mother wandering off. Mrs Lappage said: “We told them what she was like and they said they put special pads round the bed so if she put one foot out at night an alarm would go off.”
The sisters, who shared caring for their mother so she could stay in her own home on the Buttershaw estate, had gone on what should have been a holiday of a lifetime in Mexico when the incident happened on May 8.
In a statement to the Telegraph & Argus last night, Naomi Atkinson, Yorkshire Housing Association’s head of care and support, said: “We are deeply sorry that Mrs Thirkill was able to leave Emily Court unaccompanied. This is the first time that this situation has occurred and we apologise to her family for the concern and stress that has been caused.
“We have been working closely and continuously with the customer and her family to fully investigate this incident. We informed the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Bradford Adult Protection Service immediately and have informed Emily Court customers and their family members too.” MIss Atkinson said measures had been put in place and an action group had been established to investigate.
Yorkshire Housing said it was working with the Care Quality Commission and pledged to keep Mrs Thirkill’s family informed.