Worms were crawling inside the open wound of an elderly dementia patient living at a £4,000-a-month nursing home which the owners blamed on a “heatwave”.
Kathleen Hines, 92, was checking for cancer-triggered sore throats when staff made the revolting discovery.
Her nephew Chris was told by managers that the warm weather had increased the number of flies at the nursing home.
Chris, who had power of attorney over his aunt’s financial affairs, was also shocked to learn that the staff were “drugging” Kathleen to keep her from wandering around at night.
She first realized something was wrong when she fell asleep in the middle of a Skype call during the Covid lockdown.
Kathleen, a former BT telephonist, died last August almost three years after moving into Ledbury Nursing Home in Herefordshire, which is run by Shaw Healthcare.
Chris, 51, has complained to the house and is refusing to pay his final bill until they issue a full apology.
She said: “I found it strange that he would take a nap in the middle of a conversation in the morning, so I called home to see what was going on.
“The nurse I spoke with advised that if zopiclone was given it was due.
“I called and asked why she had been given zopiclone and was told it was because she was ‘moving in the night’.
“I spoke to friends who were working in the care sector who told me that this was not right at all and that I should take action to prevent Kathleen from being chemically treated.
“Another conversation with Ghar revealed that after 2-3 months after Kath was given Zopiclone at an initial dose of 3.25mg, the dose was increased to 7.5mg.
“This is the maximum dose that can be prescribed and would be enough to put me, an adult male, on my back, let alone a 90-year-old who weighs only about 50 kg.
“Just to clarify, Ledbury Nursing Home was supposed to be just that – her home, and she was paying around £4,000-a-month for it to be.
“She was totally entitled to walk around at night if that’s what she wanted.
“Shaw Healthcare’s job was to facilitate her wake up, to make sure she was safe and happy when she woke up.
“His job was not to consign him to oblivion, so he didn’t have to provide the proper number of staff.
“Soon afterwards – the next day I think – I spoke to Safeguarding, DOLS and CQC and they helped me stop it.
“Or so I thought. I gave verbal instructions not to give Kath the Zopiclone anymore.
“However, March charts that were (eventually) obtained through a subject access request show that even after they were told not to use it, they still continued to give it out at a more intermittent rate.” Remained as it is.”
Chris said he was prompted to take action after he was told that staff had made an incriminating discovery while dressing his wounds.
He said: “A final blow came just a few weeks before Kath passed away when I got a phone call from home at work, informing me that Kath’s skin cancer had worms.
“I’ve mentioned this to several medical professionals and to one person, they are horrified. That this could be allowed to happen in a clinical setting is beyond belief.”
Ledbury Nursing Home apologized for the bugs but insisted that Kathleen’s medication had been given in line with “GP medical advice”.
A spokeswoman said: “Medications for residents are prescribed by GPs based on their professional assessment.
“Our duty is to carry out the GP’s medical advice which we did in the case of Ms Hines.
“Wound management requires that the affected area be exposed and covered at various stages to aid the healing process and that the wound is regularly assessed by qualified nurses.
“During one of these routine checks a nurse noticed a problem with the wound and immediately cleaned the wound and reported the incident to the council’s safety unit in line with care industry guidelines.
“We appreciate how awful this sounds and wish it could have been prevented but seeing maggots in wounds is something that is not entirely unavoidable, especially during a heatwave where the eggs may initially be 12. Within hours visual inspection and hatch can escape.
“The independent security investigation confirmed that we dealt with the situation quickly and effectively.”