A care home allegedly told a woman her grandmother had been dead for 10 minutes when the family is sure she died a “considerable period of time” before that, an inquiry has heard.
Gillian Grant told the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry that the care home where her 91-year-old grandmother lived refused to call an ambulance when her health declined, despite being instructed to do so, and placed a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order on her without permission.
Meanwhile, Micheleine Kane told the inquiry her mother deteriorated from dehydration and starvation during a Covid outbreak in her care home before her death.
Ms Grant told the inquiry her grandmother died on November 4, 2020 while ill with Covid during an outbreak at the home – the first of 15 residents to do so.
She had been a resident at the home for just under two months when she became unwell.
Her grandmother had mild dementia, poor hearing, and chronic leg and back pain.
Shortly before her grandmother died, Ms Grant was contacted by the care home to say her health was deteriorating.
Ms Grant said staff refused to call an ambulance, despite her telling them to do so should her grandmother’s health decline.
After arriving at the care home with her mother and uncle, Ms Grant and her family were informed her grandmother had died around 10 minutes beforehand.
However, upon seeing her around 10 minutes after being informed of her death, Ms Grant, her mother and her uncle all agreed she must have died long before that.
Ms Grant said: “Her mouth and her eyes were wide open and one of the first things I tried to do was to close them – she didn’t look at peace – and I couldn’t.
“My mum, who is a retired nurse, also tried to do the same and she couldn’t.
“She was very cold to the touch and considering they told us she had only passed away 20 mins ago by that point, that didn’t seem right to me.
“The colour of her skin wasn’t right either. There was various factors that led all three of us to believe that she’d been dead for a considerable period of time.”
Ms Grant told the inquiry her grandmother had been given what the family were told was a “mild sedative”, when in fact it was Midazolam – a drug commonly used during end-of-life care.
She said her grandmother was also given two other drugs associated with end-of-life care, though she did not name them.
Ms Grant said the care home placed a DNR order on her grandmother, despite her telling them not to.
She said the care home had a written document, signed with her name in block capitals, allowing a DNR order, but Ms Grant said it was “not my signature at all”.
Asked by Stuart Gale KC, co-lead counsel for the inquiry, if there was any possibility the care home may have thought she was authorising a DNR order, she replied: “Absolutely not. My exact words to them were ‘categorically, I do not want to put a DNR order in place’.”
She also said her grandmother once told her that care home staff had thrown a bucket of water over her, despite telling Ms Grant she was being taken for a shower.
Recalling a conversation with her grandmother, Ms Grant told the inquiry: “I said to her, ‘that’s good that you had a shower’, and she said, ‘no, they took me and they threw a big bucket of water over me’.
“With people with mild dementia, she had a habit sometimes of telling little tales and stories.
“At first I thought maybe it was something like that, but it stuck in my mind because that was a very odd thing to say.
“I’ve since spoken to quite a lot of people with relatives in the home and people that have worked in the home and I really do think that that might have been the case, that that did happen.”
In the afternoon session, the inquiry heard evidence from Ms Kane, whose mother died in a care home on May 13, 2020 aged 73.
Although Ms Kane’s mother had some health problems, she was said to be of sound mind and became lonely during lockdown.
Ms Kane’s mother had unknowingly been ill with Covid for weeks, but the care home told her she had a sore throat from eating very hot soup.
She was not tested for the illness until two days before her death.
Ms Kane told the inquiry she knew something was wrong, saying her mother “looked like a corpse” and became so withdrawn that at one point all she could tell her daughter was “I’m frightened”.
Her health deteriorated as she was unable to eat or drink due to her sore throat.
Ms Kane, who is currently battling a form of blood cancer, said she told care home staff her mother was “not dying from Covid, she’s dying of dehydration and starvation in front of you”.
She said she arrived at the care home around five minutes after her mother had died.
The inquiry, before Lord Brailsford, continues.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country