Frail pensioner Janet Norton lay in own filth for weeks while Merton Council carer cleaned around her
A vulnerable pensioner was left to lie in her own filth for weeks while a council-appointed carer cleaned around her and ignored her desperate condition.
In an appalling case of neglect, Janet Norton, 72, lay immobilised for two months with a back injury on her sofa in her flat in Cranmer Farm Close, Mitcham, until her shocked daughter discovered her in December 2012 and alerted paramedics.
The carer – who was given five days training before starting work with Care UK – has been suspended after an investigation was launched on Tuesday prompted, by the Wimbledon Guardian’s enquiries.
Both Care UK and Merton Council have apologised for a “service failure”.
In August 2012 Mrs Norton was deemed by social services to be capable of looking after herself and her husband John, who is mentally impaired following a breakdown 20 years ago.
From October her condition rapidly worsened, but the carer failed to notice she was in severe pain, unable to move and had begun to use the sofa as a toilet.
Mrs Norton’s daughter, Sharon Matthews, said: “I had not seen mum and dad for three months and after a while I became suspicious because mum would never come to the phone.
“When I discovered what happened I was shocked and disgusted.
“The smell was unbelievable and there were flies everywhere.
“I called the ambulance and it took them two-and-half hours to get her out because she was in so much pain.
They had to cut her clothes off because they were drenched in urine and faeces.”
On the day Mrs Norton was discovered, her carer had written in his records: “Washed the dishes, swept and mopped the floors. Kept Janet company for the remaining [sic].”
The previous day, he wrote: “Janet was on the sofa with her husband beside her. I swept the floors, washed the dishes and put them away. I kept them company for the remaining time of my visit.”
Yesterday the CQC published results showing a quarter of home care services nationally were failing their clients.
Simon Williams, the council’s director of community and housing, said: “It is clear Mrs Norton’s change in needs was not reported back. We regret we didn’t know about it until December 17 when Mrs Matthews told us.”
“It is really unfortunate this has happened. We are very sorry, but we wouldn’t like to cloud the fact there are really good care workers looking after vulnerable adults every day.”
Councillor Suzanne Evans, Merton's shadow spokeswoman for adult social care, said the Norton's care plan was "clearly inadequate" in the first place and should also have been investigated.
She said: "I can't imagine how any carer could have missed the state the couple were in - wilfully or otherwise - and there can be no excuses.
"I would have expected the carer to be suspended immediately by Care UK when the issue first came to light in December, pending a full investigation by both them and Merton Council.
"The CQC should also have been alerted and I would have expected there to be a full review of all other placements we have with Care UK in the borough."
She added: "I have a suspicion of care plans that are too specific and inflexible. It's like the Mid Staffs scandal; real 'caring' gets lost in the push to meet a specific objective."