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Over 1,000 care home 'dehydration deaths'

Over the past decade more than 1,000 care home residents in England and Wales died of thirst or while suffering from severe dehydration, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The figures were obtained under the freedom of information act. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Some 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths from 2003 to 2012, figures obtained by the newspaper showed.

Dehydration was noted on death certificates as either the main cause of death or a contributory factor, according to the newspaper.

Some 318 care home residents died from starvation or when severely malnourished over the same period, and 2,815 deaths were related to bed sores.

The figures showed that more people died while dehydrated last year than when the coalition came to power in 2010, but the number was lower than the 2006 peak.

Government says care home neglect was 'appalling'

They added: "We have made it clear that there must be a sharper focus on taking tougher action when things go wrong and holding those responsible to account.

"Confidence in the regulation regime has been shaken, but we have now turned a corner."

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Daughter calls for 'dramatic changes to care system'

The daughter of a woman who died due to neglect at Orchid View care home said her mother was denied the "dignity and compassion" she deserved and called for "dramatic changes" to the care system to ensure that there are consequences for care home owners for "substandard services."

Speaking outside the court, Linzi Collins, whose mother Jean Halfpenny overdosed on a blood thinning drug whilst in the care home, said:

Linzi Collins, daughter of Jean Halfpenny, who died after being given an overdose of a drug thinning drug at Orchid View. Credit: Press Association

"The horrific details that have emerged about Orchid View are beyond comprehension. How the corporate failings of Southern Cross could create these events and how such terrible standards could go unnoticed by the authorities for so long has left us baffled.

"In this day and age you expect measures to be in place to protect vulnerable members of society from being subjected to such horrendously poor care.

"Our mum deserved to be treated with dignity and compassion but Orchid View failed to provide her with even a basic level of care, despite being paid a significant amount of money to do so

"We believe dramatic changes are needed to the current care system, starting firstly with greater accountability for care home owners if they are found to be making unnecessary mistakes and offering substandard services."

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Police called after 28 drug errors made in one night

Lisa Martin, a former care home worker who alerted police to failing at the Orchid View care home in Copthorne, said she the "final straw" for her came when she was told by a nurse that 28 drug errors had been made on just one night shift.

Lisa Martin, who alerted the police to care failings within Orchid View care home. Credit: Press Association

She called police who arrived the next day.

The coroner said 19 residents at Orchid View suffered "sub-optimal" care. All of those residents died from natural causes, she ruled. But five of those died from natural causes "which had been attributed to by neglect", Ms Schofield ruled.

They were Wilfred Gardner, 85, Margaret Tucker, 77, Enid Trodden, 86, John Holmes, 85, and Jean Halfpenny, 77.

Care home worker: 'I couldn't live with knowledge of abuse'

Speaking outside the inquest, Lisa Martin, who first informed police of the problems at the care home, said she felt she had no choice but to come forward:

I came forward because I had witnessed too much poor management and care to vulnerable adults and I couldn't live with the knowledge any longer and felt I had no choice but to tell the police.

Morally I know I did the right thing but personally I have not worked for two years and the case has had a huge impact on my life.

However, I wouldn't want to dissuade people from doing the right thing if they see vulnerable elderly people being abused and neglected.

Speaking of her former colleagues, she added: "They shouldn't be allowed to work in the industry."

'Institutionalised abuse from the top down' at home

Penelope Schofield, the West Sussex coroner, said:

There was institutionalised abuse throughout the home and it started, in my view, at a very early stage, and nobody did anything about it.

This, to me, was from the top down. It was completely mismanaged and understaffed and failed to provide a safe environment for residents.

Ms Schofield said it was "disgraceful" that the home was allowed to be run in the way it was for around two years. She criticised the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which gave Orchid View a "good" rating in 2010 - a year before it shut.

I question how this could be the case and I question whether the inspection that did take place was fit for purpose.

It's a heart-breaking case. We all have parents who will probably need care in the latter part of their lives.

Hunt: We have 'utterly failed' to address loneliness

England should be ashamed of how it treats its elderly, the Health Secretary said in a speech today.

It is a "national shame" that there are 800,000 elderly people in society who are chronically lonely, Jeremy Hunt said.

"We know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have utterly failed to confront as a society," he said.

"Forty-six percent of people aged 80 or over report feeling lonely some of the time or often. Some five million people say television is their main form of company - that's 10% of the population.

"Each and every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.

"A forgotten million who live amongst us - ignored to our national shame."

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