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Grieving Aberdeen family will continue to seek justice following upheld complaints to Care Inspectorate

Lawson Thain surrounded by his family.
Lawson Thain surrounded by his family.

The family of a former professional boxer has had five complaints upheld by the Care Inspectorate over the care of their father in Aberdeen.

The family of 86-year-old Lawson Thain, known as Joe, made a complaint about Kingswells Care Home following a fall at the home, which ultimately led to his death.

Daughter Donna Ewen, 55, described a catalogue of failings by the care home.

20 falls in 10 months

Mr Thain, who suffered from dementia, had 20 falls in 10 months at the home. When they finally got to see him, amid the pandemic, he was unkempt with overgrown hair and nails, and he had severe ulcers in his mouth.

After his last fall at the care home in January 2021, in circumstances that have not yet been fully established, Mr Thain was hoisted into a chair and made to sit for more than four hours before any medical assistance was sought.

Lawson Thain with daughter Donna Ewen.

He had suffered a broken hip. Two months later, in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, he died from pneumonia.

The family, who had raised concerns about a previous care home, were reluctant to place Mr Thain in Kingswells. But after a five-year stay at the Royal Cornhill Hospital, he moved into the home in 2019.

Assurances were given over the high standard of one-to-one care, and the support every 30 minutes that he would receive.

‘Devastated’

Lawson ‘Joe’ Thain.

In a report, the Care Inspectorate said Mr Thain “did not experience safe and effective falls prevention and falls management”.

It upheld the complaints on nutrition, personal care and grooming, inadequate safekeeping of his personal belongings and inadequate communication relating to his health, welfare and safety.

Mrs Ewen said she was “devastated” that what was offered by the home in the beginning, was in no way what was provided.

Lawson Thain during his early boxing career.

“Even though my mum saw my dad every day except a Sunday, you still have to place your trust in a care provider,” Mrs Ewen said.

“To have that trust betrayed is utterly disgusting. Bon Accord Care failed in their basic duties — poor oral hygiene that meant my dad couldn’t eat because of an ulcerated mouth.

Extreme weight loss

“He lost nearly two stones in three weeks, leaving him to fall in a corridor and break his hip, suggesting that the family were inventing missing personal items after he died. It goes on.

“The fact they wouldn’t properly answer our questions about the circumstances of his demise, forcing us to resort to the regulator, only prolonged our torture.”

She continued: “We are very grateful to the Care Inspectorate for their diligence.

“We appreciate that an 86-year-old man with dementia can be challenging, but as a society we owe the elderly and frail our best.

“We raised concerns with the Care Inspectorate over the prescription of morphine and midazolam without our knowledge. Our complaint was upheld. Why did we not know? This is end of life medication – it is simply not acceptable.”

Kingswells Care Home, Kingswood Drive.

‘Does lightning really strike twice?’

She continued: “Complaints about the care of my late brother [Lawson Thain], a schizophrenic, at the hands of the NHS Grampian and his GP were upheld by the ombudsman in 2018.

“As a family we are left wondering — does lightning really strike twice? Or are we all kidding ourselves about how much we really care about the vulnerable? About how much we spend on vital services, and the pride we take in delivering them? I am ashamed for all.”

Mrs Ewen said the family were continuing to seek answers to questions over her father’s care, and had made further official complaints.

Action has been taken

While stationed at Deepcut in Surrey, Mr Thain trained heavyweight champion Henry Cooper.

A spokeswoman for Bon Accord Care, who run Kingswells Care Home, said: “Action has been taken to improve the support and oversight to services, including increased training, review of record keeping and risk assessments.

“We take prevention of falls very seriously and have reviewed our strategy for preventing and dealing with this in line with national falls guidance. The safety and wellbeing of the people we support is always our highest priority.”

She added: “We are deeply sorry the care provided on this occasion, fell below the standards expected.”

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