Autistic woman left bedbound, unable to feed herself or speak was 'shadow of former self'

Jocelyn Ullmer, from West Sussex, was admitted to hospital in June last year where she saw her health deteriorate. Credit: PA images

A woman “lost the ability to talk and became a shadow her former self” after she spent nine months in hospital waiting for a place in a suitable care home, according to her mother.

Jocelyn Ullmer, from West Sussex, was admitted to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, Hampshire, with a urinary tract infection in June 2022.

The 60-year-old, who has autism, had been living at a high needs care home in Fareham, Hampshire, but when she was ready to be discharged from hospital another placement could not be found.

Her mother, Sylvia Hubbard, said that an attempt to move her to a care home in October 2022 was unsuccessful and her daughter was moved between hospital wards until she was finally found a care home in Southampton earlier this year.

Ms Hubbard, 86, told the BBC that her daughter did not receive the specialist care she needed while in hospital and added: “She was bedbound, she wasn’t encouraged to get out of bed and feed herself and she lost the ability to talk. She went completely mute.

“We tried to get her out of hospital, but no-one wanted her.”

Ms Ullmer was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth with a urinary tract infection in June 2022. Credit: PA

Ms Hubbard said that during her nine-month stay in hospital, her daughter had tested positive for Covid-19 as well as the strep-B infection.

She also shared how her duaghter started to become anxious and unwilling to sit up because of her time in a hospital bed.

She added: “She’s a shadow of her former self in all respects.”

Ms Hubbard added that she was not critical of the individual staff members at the hospital and said Ms Ullmer had started to talk again since moving into the care home.

An average of 12,372 hospital beds per day in September were occupied by people ready to be discharged, according to the latest NHS data for England.

This is up from 11,913 in August and 11,877 in July. The equivalent figure for September 2022 was 13,347.

On average, 45% of patients ready to leave hospital in September were actually discharged each day, down slightly from 46% in August.

New figures on discharge delays will be published by NHS England on Thursday.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesman said: “It is vital people receive the right care in the right place, and we are working to ensure patients are discharged safely from hospital, as soon as they are medically fit to do so.

“A record £1.6 billion investment is supporting this, on top of the £700 million to ease hospital pressures over last winter and the £42.6 million fund to support innovation in adult social care.

“To further bolster the workforce, we are continuing our Made With Care recruitment campaign – designed to reach millions of people – and the average pay for care workers has also increased. Staff retention is equally as important, which is why we are also investing almost £2 billion over two years to help councils support the workforce.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: "Like the rest of the country, our health and social care system is under significant pressure.

"We are faced with increasing demand for our services, but with a limited number of places available that can offer the necessary level of care required by people with complex needs.

"Supporting those with significant care needs is a key priority for the council.

"We continue to work closely with our local hospitals and other health partners to reduce discharge delays, make sure people are in the right place for them, with the right care, and try to ensure the time they spend in hospital is no longer than necessary."

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