Probe old age home over decomposing body - daughter whose mom died at same institution

2016-11-15 13:10
Death. (iStock)

Death. (iStock) (iStock)

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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal woman is calling for a probe into an old age home where the body of a woman was found decomposing in a room days after she had died.

The death brought back memories of her mother who died in similar circumstances 10 years ago.

Durban resident Karen Guy, 53, said memories of her mother's death came flooding back when she read a story last Friday about the discovery of Mayadevi Nagasar's body at the Ray Hulett House run by The Association For The Aged (Tafta) on Monday.

Guy said when she read of Nagasar's horrific ordeal she was taken back to September 6 2006, when she received a call that her mother, Ann, who had lived in the same facility, had died.

"I was doing the afternoon shopping when I got a call from the old age home and the supervisor said to me: 'Your mum has passed away', I was in shock and asked what had happened because she was not sickly."

Guy also asked what time her other had passed and she was told: "It must have been sometime in the morning.”

'Body was starting to stink'

READ: Body found decomposing in old age home, brother considers legal action

"The supervisor told me that they forgot to check my mother's room, so they were not sure when she had died," Guy claimed.

The routine was that the elderly would place a red disc on the outside of their door, this meant something was wrong and they needed to be checked on, if there was no disc, they were fine, explained Guy.

She was told that on that day "the staff simply forgot to check her room".

"I drove to Tafta later that day and I was taken to my mother's room. I saw her laying on the bed and I asked the supervisor if I could have five minutes with her and I was told to hurry up because her body was starting to stink."

Guy said she was also asked to call the mortuary van to fetch her mother's remains.

"She wanted my mother's body out of there because it smelt. She did not even give me the five minutes I asked for; she hovered by the door, looking at me."

Cold, uncaring

Guy suspects that her mother died in the early hours of the morning but the staff did not check up on her that morning.

"I thought to myself: They should have checked on her the night before and in the morning. Maybe she would still be alive if they had checked. When I read the story about the woman's body that was found, all the memories came flooding back.

"It is absolute nonsense that they thought she was not living there anymore. I think that they are cold and uncaring. My mom used to complain bitterly about the staff there."

Guy said the old age home should be investigated for negligence.

"Their job is to check on the elderly every day, how many other families out there have gone through what we have gone through. I regret not opening a case against them, I believe they were negligent. Maybe this case would have never happened if they were being closely monitored," said Guy.

On Friday, News24 reported that Nagasar's brother, Krish Nagasar, 69, was considering opening a criminal case against the old age care facility as he believed that his sister could have been monitored better.

'Skin stuck to mattress'

He said the coroner told him his sister was so badly decomposed that her body was mummifying.

"It was so bad that her skin was stuck to the mattress." Nagasar said.

He was told that his sister's body could have been decomposing for about four days.

Nagasar panicked when he did not hear from his sister and called Tafta. He was told that she had moved to another facility.

Convinced that she was still there, he drove to Tafta and when he arrived he saw a mortuary van. He was informed later that she had died.

Nagasar said he believed that if someone had been checking up on his sister she may have been helped.

Tafta's chief operating officer Femada Shamam, commenting on the death of Guy's mother, said it was difficult to comment on a case that happened 10 years ago.

"There are special circumstances surrounding last week's case but we have always encouraged family members to raise concerns they have with the organisation because we have an open door policy."

On the staff complaint, Shamam said there was always room for improvement.

"As an organisation, we endeavour to always do better. We understand that death is traumatic and there will always be a traumatic memory surrounding the death," she said.

Read more on:    durban  |  healthcare

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