Family’s pain over Reg’s disrupted care plan

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THE mother of a disabled man who died recently is considering legal action against the Southern Trust after they changed the caring package for her son which she said affected him in the months before his death.

Nancy Penn’s son Reg was paralysed from the neck down following a car accident when he was 18.

He died from septicemia almost two weeks ago at the age of 57, having been cared for by his mother at their Donaghcloney home for the past 11 years after moving here from England.

Mrs Penn (79) told the Leader she had made several written complaints to the Health Service, but was not happy with the responses.

The Donaghcloney lady, originally from Kilkenny, said her son had been thriving in the care of three local women for the past five years - but a change to the ‘community care package’ earlier this year saw his mood decline as new carers were introduced.

“I want to thank the three carers - Maureen Shanks, Muriel Lavery and Joan McCullough - who made such a difference to Reg’s life in the past five years.

“They should know that their tender care and wonderful sense of humour and fun as well as their dedication to Reg was appreciated 100 per cent by my son and the rest of my family.

“Despite everything Reg never let his disability get him down,” said Mrs Penn.

But when notified that the carers would be removed as part of changes to the procedures for home care, Mrs Penn said she protested strongly, to no avail.

“They told me they had to ‘maintain a rotational rota’ so in my view they put policy and precedure ahead of my son and what was best for him.

“He became very low after that, I could see it. Reg was doing so well until that continuity of care was broken.”

Nancy, who is currently suffering from lung cancer, took a nine-month course in how to care for Reg following his accident.

And the mother-of-two said knowing the three local carers were so good at their job allowed her to have some peace of mind that her beloved son would be well cared for if she had to attend a hospital appointment or run an errand.

“I just want them to know how much I, Reg and the rest of the family appreciated what they did for us,” said Mrs Penn.

She added that she intends to pursue her complaints to the trust about the changes to her son’s care in recent months.

When contacted by the Leader a spokeswoman for the Southern Trust said, “The Southern Trust would like to offer sincere sympathy to Mrs Penn and her family following the recent death of her son.

“Due to our duty of patient confidentiality we are unable to publicly comment on individual cases, however, the Trust can confirm it takes all complaints seriously and carries out a full investigation and issues a response to each complaint.

“The Trust works with patients and their families to resolve any issues causing them concern and would encourage individuals and their families to contact the Trust directly if they remain unhappy with the response.

“The Southern Trust has processes in place to ensure the service for clients is provided to a high standard of safety and quality. The Trust aims to provide a quality of service which promotes the dignity and wellbeing of all clients in receipt of the service.”

Reg’s funeral service was held at his home in Donaghcloney, followed by burial at Roselawn Cemetery.

He is survived by his mother Nancy, brother Stewart and two nephews.