Grieving daughter attacks care home

By Dana Gloger, May 16, 2008
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Jewish Care has been accused by a grieving daughter of failing to provide adequate help for her dying mother.

Helene Parnes, 88, from Harrow, Middlesex, moved into the organisation’s Leo Baeck House in Hampstead, North-West London, in March this year.

Three days later she was taken to hospital with a chest infection, and diagnosed with a tumour, but told that she could be discharged.



Veronica Lansman at the bedside
of her mother, Helene Parnes

Her daughter, Veronica Lansman, 63, said that following the diagnosis, Jewish Care became unhelpful and did not want to have her mother back.

“She needed 24-hour oxygen and they said they could not have someone with those needs in the home as it was a care home and not a nursing home,” said Mrs Lansman.

Staff at the Royal Free Hospital, also in Hampstead, liaised with Jewish Care to try to get Mrs Parnes into Osmond House Nursing Home, which is next door to Leo Baeck. According to Mrs Lansman, who also lives in Harrow, it took four days for the manager of the home to assess her mother, and then there was around two weeks of negotiations between Jewish Care and Harrow council over funding.

During this time, Mrs Parnes had to remain in hospital, despite practitioners saying she was fit to be discharged.

“They couldn’t do anything more for her in hospital, but she had nowhere to go, so had to stay there much longer than necessary,” Mrs Lansman said.

“She wanted to be out of the hospital and felt that I was keeping her there,” she said.

Mrs Parnes’s condition deteriorated and she died in hospital, having spent more than five weeks there.

She and her husband, Michael, 70, wrote to Jewish Care to complain and to ask for the £5,000 advance, paid when Mrs Parnes moved into Leo Baeck, to be refunded.

The couple received a reply from Cydonie Garfield, head of strategy at the organisation last week in which she said she was concerned at “the unfortunate sequence of events” which seem to have followed Mrs Parnes’s admittance to Leo Baeck House.

Ms Garfield said she would be conducting an investigation into their complaint and would consider their request for a refund.

John Coleby, Jewish Care’s director of care services, said: “We take complaints very seriously indeed and we are carrying out a thorough investigation. We have asked to meet Mr and Mrs Lansman once the outcome is known so we can discuss what happened and what lessons can be learned.

“We are never complacent about the way in which our services are run and it is not our intention to cause families additional stress at difficult times.”

He said they could not comment further until after the investigation, but “again apologise for any distress that may have inadvertently been caused.”

    Last updated: 9:18am, May 19 2008