Elderly populations in the West are booming. With an ever increasing ageing population care of the elderly has become costly. Worryingly there have been too many cases of neglect and this latest one from Sweden is shocking.
There are reports that an elderly woman needed a leg amputation due to neglect in a Swedish care home. The 95-year-old woman needed urgent medical treatment when maggots were discovered in a leg wound. Sadly the woman's leg needed to be amputated but how could such a development take place in a care home?
The incident happened in the Summer of 2012 and is not the first of its kind in Sweden. A nursing home run by Carema was reported to the Swedish health authorities following the discovery of maggots in a man's foot wound in August 2012. The 69-year-old man in this incident ultimately needed a leg amputation and within three weeks of surgery died.
He was suffering from cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Both often go "hand in hand" and both can lead to a limb amputation. In the UK leg amputations are common in the case of vascular disease and diabetes. A recent report condemned the number taking place each year in the UK maintaining that many are unnecessary and simply due to a "postcode lottery" of health care in the UK. If an early diagnosis of vascular disease is made the prognosis should not include an amputation. If people in the UK are shocked though to think that where you live can determine how quickly your condition is diagnosed what of these elderly people in Sweden?
Once a wound is infected with maggots it will stink. There will also be an obvious and smelly leakage. If a wound is dressed frequently and appropriately maggots should never occur.
By the time the man with an infected foot was taken to hospital for treatment the wound was black and necrosis had set in. Amputation would have been the only alternative.
The 95-year-old woman was a resident at the Rosengården, in a suburb of Stockholm. A report in the Local includes information from former staff and relatives of the residents which paints a dreadful picture of lack of care:
Karlsson said senile patients would regularly fall out of their beds because the nursing home was understaffed.
"One woman had to go into hospital constantly to be stitched up and she was bruised all over. But she did not have any relatives so was not seen as a priority," said Karlsson.
Another woman, whose mother lived at Rosengården at the time of her death last fall, was also very critical of the nursing home.
During one visit, she found her mother passed out in the canteen and none of the staff members had not noticed.
Another time she realized that staff had disconnected her mother's bed-side alarm bell because she she had rung it too often.
The Rosengården care home is run by a company called Attendo. It is a huge company. In 2011 staff at one Attendo care home in Sweden placed bets on when a resident would die. Once the person had died sunglasses were disrespectfully put on the corpse. The culprits were sacked following a whistle-blower's revelations.
Common sense and life experiences teach us that caring for the elderly is never easy, even if it is a dearly loved person known to you. It can catch you unprepared. Relatives however trust those employed to care for the elderly to do so. It is their job. One certainty in this life is that unless you die young one day you will be old.
According to an Attendo spokesperson it is not a rare occurrence for wounds to fill up with maggots during the Summer months and does not show a lack of care of any such wound.