Legal action after pensioner’s 24-hour fall ordeal

An angry son is taking legal steps against Stevenage Homes after his infirm mother was left on the floor of her sheltered home for up to 24 hours after a fall.

Clive Ratsey has written to the local government ombudsman after exhausting an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding his mother’s fall at Hobbs Court last year.

Ann Harding, 65, who now lives in a Bupa care home in the town, fell sometime after 2pm on August 5 and was unable to reach an emergency pull cord.

Despite a routine check over an intercom by staff the following morning, she was not found until around 2pm by a friend. The emergency services were called and Ms Harding was treated at Lister Hospital for burns to her arms and legs caused by a liquid washing tablet she was holding at the time of her fall.

When she was found she reported to a Hobbs Court housing officer that she had been crying out for help when the routine call had come through.

After investigating, Harry Goodrich, customer services divisional manager at Stevenage Homes told Ms Harding: “We have spoken to both members of staff on duty in the morning. However their recollection of events is inconsistent with yours. Both members of staff have told us that when called your response was that you were ok, but also that they were unable to recall your exact words.

“As we have different versions of events, with no independent evidence, we are therefore unable to progress this complaint any further.”

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Mr Ratsey points to the inconsistency in the staff remarks and demands an apology for her mother’s treatment.

“I believe the processes in place are unsafe. They are putting people’s lives at risk,” he said. “They made out she was ok, but she was crying out for help. If there was any doubt they should have come round.

“She had bad burns. She was in terrible pain. They had to cut her clothes off in the ambulance.”

Debbie Rab�t, director of housing and customer services at Stevenage Homes said tenants’ welfare is its primary concern.

“I can understand Ms Harding’s son’s viewpoint that although she was called in the morning by a supported housing officer her fall was not discovered until the afternoon of the same day. Staff on duty are clear that they did not hear her ask for help and followed our procedures.

“This incident could have been prevented if Ms Harding had been wearing her Careline pendant, which we encourage all tenants to do at all times. Had the pendant or pull cord been activated there would have been no question about whether or not help was needed.”