Family left 'confused and angry' after inquest finds no staff were around when Northampton great-grandmother suffered fall

There were no staff to help when a 79-year-old great-grandmother fell from her chair in a Northampton care home and suffered catastrophic injuries, an inquest has heard.

Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 3:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 5:21 pm
Valerie Mary Hawksworth died after falling from her chair at Argyle House Care Home.

Valerie Mary Hawksworth - who was paralysed on one side from a stroke and battling dementia - was found facedown on the floor in a communal living room at Argyle House care home after she fell out of her reclining chair, broke both wrists and suffered a bleed on the brain.

She died 10 days later at Northampton General Hospital surrounded by her family on May 29, 2018.

But at her inquest yesterday (November 14), the coroner heard Valerie and her fellow residents were unattended and unsupervised when she fell and was only found by a staff nurse coming back from her break.

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There were no members of staff around when Valerie fell from her chair.

It comes after a damning CQC published this week branded Argyle House an 'inadequate' care home and pointed to its critical understaffing as a serious factor in its consistent failures in care.

In fact, there were no members of staff in the living room when Valerie fell, the coroner was told. The inquest was unable to find any witnesses who could shed light on how Valerie fell from her chair. It is not known how long Valerie was on the floor.

A criminal investigation was launched after her death, but Northamptonshire Police confirmed they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

A nurse on duty at the time told the coroner: "I came off my break and a patient told me something was wrong. I found Valerie on the floor face down. A table attached to her chair was on its side."

It comes after Argyle House was branded inadequate in a CQC report this week.

Valerie was seated in a specialist reclining chair fitted with a non-slip cushion and a fold-over table that was meant to keep her falling out of it.

The husband of another patient reportedly heard a loud bang before the incident, but did not see what happened.

Senior coroner Anne Pember ruled Valerie's death as accidental.

But Mrs Hawksworth's family left the inquest "angry, upset and confused" at how the disabled 79-year-old could have left the reclining chair and been found facedown on the floor.

Her daughter, Cathryn Bruley, said: "If there had been a member of staff in the room she would have lived to see her 80th birthday a week later.

"Even if she had slid out of her chair, she would have been on her back. How could this have possibly happened?"

In a statement read out by the coroner, Valerie's son Kieth Wellington said: "Mum was very outgoing and loved her family. She took any excuse to have a garden party or a barbeque. She will be sadly missed."