An MP has told the Commons how her elderly father was left bloodied, bruised and unconscious at a care facility, claiming a senior council official subsequently told her “he had asked for it”.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said her father, who has dementia, suffered an appalling catalogue of injuries while staying at an extra care facility last year.
Speaking in a parliamentary adjournment debate that she secured into the safeguarding of vulnerable people in care homes, the Labour MP – whose account provoked gasps in the chamber – called for action to be taken to “ensure that even more families do not experience the horror of finding their loved one bruised, bleeding and terrified”.
The shadow minister for sport, who also works as an A&E doctor, explained how on several occasions her father was left with unexplained injuries. The situation became so bad, she said, that her father began sleeping on the floor in a communal area as he was too terrified to stay in his room.
Her father, a former university lecturer in his 70s who can no longer speak properly, was living at Ensham House in Wandsworth, south London for 18 months until late last year. The facility provides 24-hour care for people aged 55 and over living in 45 individual flats.
The most recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission rated the facility as “good”. But Allin-Khan said neither Wandsworth council or London Care, which is contracted by the local authority to look after people staying there, had provided an adequate explanation for the situation. She said she and her family felt as if they were being put “on trial” when raising concerns.
She even claimed the director of adult social services at Wandsworth council, Liz Bruce, last week refused to look at photos of her father’s injuries and declared the dementia sufferer had sustained them because he “had asked for it”.
Allin-Khan told the Commons it took three days before a carer alerted her that her father had first been injured. “He was found extremely distressed by a carer, covered in bloody injuries,” she said.
“To our horror, we were told he had not left the building overnight, there was no evidence of him having fallen and no other resident had any evidence of injury. Quite unexpectedly, the centre manager suddenly left and not a single person had any excuse as to what had happened or why we were not called.
“In the following months, we found my father bruised again with no answers on two further occasions … we were incredibly concerned, and this is when they started to attempt to claim, that despite a year of living there with no issues towards him, my father was being ‘difficult’.
“This was not corroborated by his community psychiatric team, [nor] any of the day centre staff where he spent up to 25 hours per week.”
When her father was admitted to hospital for a routine issue, he was served an eviction notice detailing a list of allegations against him with “no evidence”, the MP said, adding: “How heartless, an eviction notice while in hospital.”
Allin-Khan, who said the care facility had five separate managers in as many months, said: “The point of no return was when we found my father unconscious on the floor with blood on the walls and the floor and the carer’s set of keys left next to him. Following this, he spent one month in hospital.”
Her father has since been moved to another care facility. The MP, who works at St George’s hospital in her south London seat of Tooting, said: “We must give our vulnerable a fair chance at ageing safely and gracefully and their voices must be heard.”
The Metropolitan police, which investigated the injuries sustained by the MP’s father, said: “Despite extensive enquiries, it was not possible to confirm whether or not the man had been assaulted.”
London Care Ltd made a pre-tax profit of £723,000 in 2018, up from £626,000 in 2017, according to Companies House. A spokesman said: “Dr Allin-Khan’s father had complex care needs and we were already aware of concerns about his tenancy at Ensham House Extra Care scheme, at which London Care provides care services. However, we have no reason to believe that London Care failed in its duty of care in this case and our view is supported by the findings of the local authority’s own safeguarding investigation.”
A Wandsworth council spokesman said: “We have been in dialogue with Rosena Allin-Khan MP about her father for some time, and are aware of her concerns. Although she makes some important points related to wider public policy, in the investigations to date we have not been able to validate her specific complaint about her father’s care.”