Pensioner died after spending EIGHT HOURS in freezing cold outside care home overnight

A pensioner died of pneumonia after she spent eight hours in freezing conditions overnight outside her care home, an inquest heard.

A jury heard how staff did 'not follow the right procedures' to detect that 84-year-old Dorothy Spicer was missing.

Mrs Spicer’s family were furious after her death certificate left a blank for the cause of death. They demanded an investigation two years ago which led to the inquest.

The inquest jury decided that staff had not done routine checks on residents at a shift change over otherwise the dead woman’s disappearance may have been noticed.

The jury at the inquest at Stamford Town Hall returned a narrative verdict that stated Mrs Spicer died of pneumonia due to decreased mobility following a bout of hypothermia and dementia.

The verdict described how Mrs Spicer was found lying in the grounds of Whitefriars Care Home in Stamford, Lincolnshire, on November 26, 2009, at 5am. She was outside in freezing conditions for more than eight hours.

Paramedics were called to the home at 6.42am and she was admitted to Peterborough District Hospital. She died in Stamford Hospital on January 21, 2010.

A statement from the jury, read by coroner Gordon Ryall, said: 'The afternoon shift and the night shift (at the care home) did not follow the right procedures. There were no forms filled out at hand-over and there was no head count. That evening at 8.30pm no-one checked on the whereabouts of Mrs Spicer as they should.'

Mrs Spicer lived with daughter Jane Howard in Market Deeping, Cambridgeshire, before moving to Whitefriars Care Home.

Afterwards, Mrs Howard said: 'There are many unanswered questions but now as a family we have to draw a close.

'After almost two-and-a-half years of torment and nightmares we have got to bring it to an end. We have won. The total malfunction of that home is unbelievable. We have not thought about our next steps yet.'

Mrs Spicer’s other daughter Carol Howard said: 'When the death certificate has nothing on then you can’t even say how your mother died. The fight here, this week, was for them to say Mum died of something.'

A spokesman for Whitefriars, run by the Orders of St John Care Trust, said: 'The trust has always accepted that it let Mrs Spicer and her family down, for which it is sincerely and deeply sorry.

'We shall reflect on the verdict and consider how to incorporate it into our existing commitment to the continuous improvement of our care services.'


Sourced from The Daily Mail, 28th February 2012.