Three dead in Yorkshire care home where residents were found in own excrement

Tareq Haddad
Budget 2017

Three pensioners have died at a care home where standards fell so low that residents were found in their own excrement and ate breakfast off ant-infested tables.

Albert Pooley, 89, James Metcalfe and Harry Kilvington, both 85, died within seven months of each other at Sowerby House, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, in 2016.

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At an inquest into their deaths on Thursday (6 April), coroner Michael Oakley concluded that the men died of natural causes rather than the care they received, but added that Sowerby House "fell below the standard expected".

Oakley returned a narrative verdict in each case. He said for each: "While the standard of care afforded to the deceased whilst at Sowerby House was below the standard expected of a nursing home, he has died from natural causes."

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He added that Jo King, who ran the care home last year, "fell short of the task," according to a Times report. As a consequence, so did the staff.

Care was 'totally unacceptable'

Among the evidence in the case, it was heard that Metcalfe, a retired farmer, was found dying in his own excrement by a district nurse, Penelope Hutchinson.

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After he was unchecked for four-and-a-half hours and found with chapped lips, Hutchinson told the inquest she cleaned him up and confronted the manager.

"I went to see her and said, 'This is totally unacceptable, this gentleman deserves basic standards of care, this is somebody's father, somebody's husband,'" she said, reports the BBC.

Kilvington, a retired furniture salesman, was found with gangrene from an infected foot ulcer which led to his death.

Pooley, a retired HGV driver, died in hospital from bronchopneumonia and a urinary tract infection.

North Yorkshire Police and the Care Quality Commission began investigations into standards at the home. However, the evidence did not prove neglect and no criminal charges will follow.

A spokesman for Larchwood Care, which owns Sowerby House, said: "[The home] is undergoing a complete transformation, with the support and involvement of residents, families and staff.

"A new management and support team is in place and considerable investment is under way in the fabric of the home.

"The national shortage of nurses led to a decision to change the registration and the home now focuses on residential care."

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