An elderly woman who was hurt in a fall at her Blackpool care home is at the centre of a social media storm after pictures of her injuries went viral on Facebook.
Blackpool Council and police are investigating after Gladys Millard, 89, fell at St Stephen’s Nursing Home, in North Shore, at the weekend.
It is unfair to face trial by social media
But bosses at the home, on St Stephen’s Road, have come under fire after a concerned relative posted pictures of her injuries online, which have now been shared by more than 14,000 people.
Mrs Millard – who has been prescribed warfarin, which makes bruises appear worse than normal – suffered a head injury when she fell in her room.
An alarm that should have alerted staff to the fall did not activate – but bosses, who hit out at the “unfair” criticism they have faced online, say it was working.
The Gazette understands both Blackpool Council’s safeguarding team and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have since visited the home as part of their inquiries into the incident and no immediate
concerns for other residents were raised.
Debbie Westhead, CQC deputy chief inspector for adult social care in the North, said: “CQC is aware of concerns highlighted by the family of a resident and is currently looking into the issues raised.
“If necessary we will take action to ensure the safety and well-being of the people using the service.
“The matter is also subject to investigation by the local authority safeguarding team.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage, however, we are in liaison with all involved agencies and continue to monitor this provider closely to make sure that people living at the home are not at risk and that their needs are being met.”
A statement issued on behalf of St Stephen’s Nursing Home said: “The safety and welfare of our residents is our main priority.
“We are cooperating fully with the relevant authorities into the investigation surrounding the fall and the reasons why the bed alarm did not activate despite the fact that it was operational.
“Once the investigation is complete we will be in a position to provide further details around this unfortunate incident.
“It’s unfair to face trial by social media without any right to reply, however the investigation will set the record straight in reporting on the actual facts around this incident.”
Angry relatives of Mrs Millard have hit out at the nursing home for its handling of the situation, which resulted in police being called to the home on Monday as tempers flared when they arrived to collect her belongings.
Mrs Millard, who is currently in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, is paralysed down the right side of her body following a stroke fours years ago.
Her condition limits her ability to communicate, her family said. Police have yet to speak to her about the incident on Sunday but say they plan to.
Grandaughter Sarah Kinney, of Bispham, said: “I was told a man went outside for a cigarette and heard her crying.
“They came in and she was on the floor. I feel bad because we put her in there and said it would be all right.”
The authorities have yet to release any findings from their investigation, although sources say the attention the incident has received on social media is a “concern”.
The Gazette understands bosses at the nursing home, which was ranked “good” in all categories in its latest CQC report, have taken legal advice in relation to derogatory comments posted online.
A message was posted on the Facebook account of Miss Kinney’s daughter, 15-year-old Tyler, on Monday, which has since been shared around the world. It has attracted more than 5,000 comments.
The home’s own report of the incident, part of which has ben seen by The Gazette, states: “Gladys got up to go to the toilet, lost balance and fell. Bed alarm didn’t activate.
“This incident wasn’t witnessed. Gladys was found on the floor on the other side of the crash mat with haematoma to the left side of the forehead.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We have been made aware of the possible mistreatment of an elderly resident of St Stephen’s Nursing Home after she was admitted to hospital with a number of injuries.
“The exact circumstances are at this time unclear and we remain in the very early stages of a joint investigation with Adult Social Care, the CQC and Health to establish what may have happened and what further appropriate action may be taken.
“There are no immediate safeguarding concerns for any of the other residents at the home.
“We are in regular contact with the lady’s family who are happy with the response so far.”
The family’s dispute with the home came to a head on Monday when Miss Kinney and her fiancé Kevin Wood went to pick up Mrs Millard’s belongings.
Police were called to a disturbance at the property although officers decided no offences had been committed.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We received a call at 12.35pm on Monday. Police attended and both parties were spoken to separately.”
Coun Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s cabinet secretary, said: “We are aware of an incident reported in relation to St Stephen’s Nursing Home.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment any further.”