A WOMAN who died from constipation complications whilst in the care of an assisted living provider in Bromsgrove was neglected, an inquest has concluded.

Sally Lewis, who had severe learning disabilities, died aged 55, in October 2017 at an assisted living facility called The Dock in Catshill which was managed by provider Dimensions.

A post-mortem examination showed she died of complications from constipation – faecal impaction.

There was no initial inquest as Sally’s cause of death was classed as natural causes, but the family believed the death was preventable and began a battle for answers.

Nearly six years on from her death, Sally’s family are finally able grieve and have been given answers following a five day inquest held at Worcestershire Coroner’s Court from May 24.

Coroner David Reid concluded that Dimensions failed to provide basic medical care for Sally and that neglect contributed to her death.

Bromsgrove Advertiser: Julie Bennett and her sister Sally Lewis.Julie Bennett and her sister Sally Lewis. (Image: Julie Bennett.)

Sally had been prescribed constipation medication since at least September 2016 but received none of this medication for nine months in the led up to her death.

There was no consistent regime in place to monitor Sally’s bowel movements and records were not maintained.

Dimensions said they ‘could and should have done better’ and have ‘apologised again’ to Sally’s family.

Julie Bennett, Sally’s sister said they have struggled as a family to find out the truth of what happened to Sally.

“She was a beautiful person who brought joy and a love of life everywhere she went,” said Julie.

“Sally died unnecessarily because those who were meant to keep her safe decided to stop doing basic checks to ensure she was well. It has been heart-breaking listening to it at all because the evidence has been much worse than we could have expected even after six years of reading it on paper.

“The only relief has been that someone – the Coroner – has listened and ensured that we now know how badly Sally was failed and neglected. 

“If the changes implemented since Sally died save one life, even though Sally can never come back to us, the fight will have been worth it. We are finally able to grieve.”

Rachel Dodgson, chief executive of Dimensions, said the company did not make expectations of recording clear to colleagues and their systems and processes to check the quality of records were not delivered effectively.

“This meant that nobody put all the pieces together,” said Ms Dodgson.

“When Sally died, no one around her realised she was constipated.

“And as a result, she hadn’t been receiving her PRN (“as needed”) medicine.”

Ms Dodgson added: “We now have mandatory training for everyone supporting a person at known risk of constipation.

“It is an organisational requirement that all people we support are regularly screened for constipation and bowel health.

“Our electronic daily records system which is now fully embedded means it is much easier for managers to scrutinise all records relating to the people we support.”

Will Whitaker of Bindmans who represents Julie Bennett during the inquest said when Sally moved to Then Dock she was let down.

“This should be taken as a stark warning to all those in the care sector to ensure that they listen and make sure that the health needs of people with learning disabilities are properly monitored, reviewed, and considered,” said Mr Whitaker.