Woman files police report fearing mother’s neglect in care home
The daughter of a care home resident has asked the police to take action against Casa Arkati management in Mosta, claiming her elderly mother was being malnourished and severely neglected, after the elderly woman lost a leg to a gangrenous infection that had developed without her family being informed. A criminal complaint was filed on Friday, claiming criminal negligence on the part of the lead nurse and manager at the home had led directly to the amputation. Nonagenarian Rita Camilleri’s daughter told MaltaToday that the elderly woman, who resides at Casa Arkati, had developed a red spot on her toe some eight months ago and was prescribed antibiotics.
She assumed all was well after that as she was not given any updates on the woman’s condition. But she said a nurse, who is no longer working there, had called the daughter sometime later, informing her that one of her mother’s toes had turned black and that inflammation was spreading upwards. The daughter contacted a specialist, who recommended that Rita Camilleri be taken to hospital right away.
Rita lost two toes in her first operation. “I chased the nurses and carers at Casa Arkati to bring a specialised government nurse to treat her toe. In the meantime I wasn’t allowed to see my mother because of COVID-19 quarantine,” Maria Dolores Camilleri said.
At hospital, Camilleri’s foot was later amputated, but the gangrene had spread and doctors were subsequently forced to amputate her leg below the knee. Around six weeks ago, the patient was unable to talk to her daughter, other than to cry in pain, her daughter said. She was then not allowed to see her mother at the home for the elderly due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A nurse reported that her mother was shouting at night and might need to be referred for psychiatric treatment. “I said: don’t tell me that word [psychiatric treatment] again. You left her for 13 days in pain!” Camilleri told this newspaper. A day later the woman finally saw her mother again. “When I saw her I took fright.
She was skeletal and subdued, not talking… I started shouting and crying telling her ‘ma, you aren’t eating! Aren’t they feeding you?’ She said, under her breath, ‘I’m hungry’.”
The woman engaged a diabetes specialist, who took photos and referred her to the emergency department. “Casa Arkati said she wasn’t eating and was refusing food. I have a video of her at the ER show her crying with hunger and then eagerly eating a sandwich provided by the ER staff.” After the amputation, Casa Arkati had to enforce a 15-day quarantine requirement on patients returning from Mater Dei Hospital.
CareMalta, which runs the home, “strongly denied” that any of its residents had not been given proper care and support and insisted that it “at all times follows and abides by the guidelines issued by the Social Care Standards Authority.” “Unfortunately in some cases lack of food intake, pain and deterioration of health is unavoidable due to old age and illnesses, however rest assured that in such cases our team of nurses and carers work hand in hand with the medical staff to ensure that the residents receive the appropriate treatment and care,” CareMalta said. The management added that it had all the necessary protocols to deal with such cases in place.
“Whenever such situations arise, we inform the relatives of the changing situation in the resident’s health. Furthermore, should the resident’s condition turn for the worse leading to an-end-of life situation, and is certified by a medical doctor, relatives are allowed to visit. In the absence of such a certificate no relatives are allowed to enter the home outside visiting hours as per national guidelines.”
Camilleri said that since filing the police report, the care home manager was not taking her calls and the Social Care Standards Authority was doing likewise. “It’s not a bad home, but if employees are not up to scratch they must be replaced. These things must be regulated.” “The family was kept in the dark,” the daughter said, after filing her police report. “What they did before, they can do again.
I don’t want her to die.”