'People need to know what goes on behind closed doors': Ingol woman speaks out about late mum's welfare at Leyland care home
A whistleblower who instigated a report into a Leyland care home has spoken out about its findings as she encourages other families to 'make sure your loved one is safe'
She didn't touch her mum for 11 months until the morning of her death and was restricted to seeing her through her bedroom window.
That was the harsh reality for Lesley Ryan, who along with brother Paul, had raised numerous concerns about the welfare of her mum Marie while she was residing at the Jah-Jireh care home for Jehovah's Witnesses in Leyland.
The mum-of-three from Ingol is urging people to check up on their elderly relatives in homes and to "never give up" in ensuring they are safe after her concerns had instigated a full investigation by a health watchdog.
Lesley said: "I am trying to make people aware of what can go on behind closed doors and want to tell the story of how harrowing it was to see my mum on the day she died and how unbelievably shocking and heartbreaking it was.
"We finally managed to see her the morning that she died, because with Covid-19 and the lockdowns none of me or my siblings had seen her for a year. We had window visits and that was it, the home never tried to facilitate any way for us to actually see her.
"I became concerned about her health and welfare just from seeing her through the window and the state she was in. She had suffered badly with depression and her nerves and I know how much it affected her and how badly the lockdown had made it worse but it still wasn't enough for me to see her."
Her worst fears were exposed in the home's most recent report after two inspectors found the home to be 'inadequate' with 'visibly unclean' areas, soiled bathroom equipment and instances where staff put vulnerable residents at risk after failing to wear PPE or adhere to Covid-19 guidelines.
Lesley remembers harrowing moments seeing her mum looking 'stick thin' on the day she passed away.
She claims her mum's bedroom was dirty and unclean and that she had 'felt like a burden' when calling the home to check up on her.
And after raising her concerns with the Care Quality Commission, it carried out an investigation into the Leyland home under Section 60 of the Health and Social Care Act.
Lesley claims that the care home, on Beechfield Court, had repeatedly told her that she could not go inside the home to see her mother but said she had witnessed managers letting other visitors in without PPE.
The CQC findings also revealed that the home had failed to consistently follow current legislation, adding: "the registered manager and their staff had not consistently followed current legislation, standards and best practice guidance to achieve effective outcomes. This included national COVID-19 guidance on allowing visitors into the care home."
It also found areas of the home were 'visibly unclean' with communal bathroom equipment found 'soiled' and personal equipment, such as walking aids were also dirty.
The past year continued to be detrimental to Marie's health, with Lesley adding that she had been told her mum was 'doing okay and eating well' by care home staff in the lead up to her tragic death on February 13, just two days before her 97th birthday.
But seeing her on that difficult last morning proved otherwise, according to Lesley.
She added: "I had got in touch with the home many times about trying to see her on the grounds that I had noticed she was deteriorating but I was always told that she was doing okay.
"I feel like I was told lies just to keep me in the dark as her condition got worse. I was told she was doing okay and eating, but what I saw was totally different to that and I can't believe that is my last image of her.
"I had called the home on multiple occasions and was told that I had to stop calling and let the staff get on with their work, it was so rude and I just couldn't believe how cruel it was, especially during such difficult circumstances.
"When I saw her on that final morning when I was finally allowed in, I can't even begin to explain the shock I felt. She had black all over her hands and feet because she had started to die, it was just horrendous.
"She went within half an hour of us being there but after a year of not seeing her, I knew she was holding out for us and clinging on to see her family. The room was absolutely filthy and we have had no apology or acknowledgement from the home since."
"I just knew by talking to my mum and looking at her that something was wrong and it just broke all our hearts. I feel like she had been left in that room and was rotting away. We should've been allowed to see her before it got that bad but we weren't allowed in until she was on death's door.
It may now be too late for Lesley and her family, but the mum-of-three from Ingol is now encouraging people to always check that their loved ones are being cared for in residential homes.
Rights for Residents are among other organisations set up during the Covid-19 pandemic in a bid to fight against care homes for families to see their loved ones.
Lesley said: "Nothing came as a surprise to me in that care home report. It just confirmed everything I already knew and it was just absolutely heartbreaking. That home should be held accountable for its actions.
"I feel like we were ignored and told lies, because nothing could have prepared me for seeing my mum as I saw her in that room and how distraught we all felt.
"I would urge anyone in this position to just keep on fighting and pushing and never give up. Make sure your parents or loved ones are being looked after and given the care they need and if not, take action."
The Post contacted the care home for a response but it declined, adding it could not comment on individual circumstances.
However, responding to the CQC report, a spokesperson told the Post: ‘We acknowledge the CQC report, and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to address the matters raised.
"We are contacting our residents and families individually to keep them informed. Since the inspection, improvements are continuing to be implemented.
"With this in mind, we aim to ensure that the Leyland Home returns to its previous overall “Good” rating at a future inspection."