Mum’s questions over son’s death

Dean Spicer who died at Havelock House residential home in Polegate
Dean Spicer who died at Havelock House residential home in Polegate

Parents of a disabled man are still fighting for answers to how he died while at a Polegate nursing home - a year after his death. Les and Frances Spicer are demanding answers to how their son Dean could have died from a treatable disease 12 hours after arriving at Havelock House Nursing Home.

Dean died from a lung infection that was likely to have developed as his immune system was so low, a post mortem examination found.

A report by paramedics stated he could have been dead for up to eight hours before he was discovered with hypothermia and rigor mortis by staff, said a lawyer from Irwin Mitchell, the law firm representing the Spicer family.

Dean had been referred to Havelock House by a locum GP following a case of diarrhoea that left him weak and unable to stand on February 1, 2012.

The nursing home was issued with a pre-action letter claiming negligence against them in October 2012 by Irwin Mitchell.

Dean’s family received a settlement from the nursing home’s insurance company this February.

The care home’s boss, Ian Dhunnoo, has denied liability.

A review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shortly after the 48-year-old’s death found a number of flaws in Havelock House’s quality of care.

Those flaws have since been addressed by the care home, according to the latest CQC report.

Anita Jewitt, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said lessons must be learnt to avoid families’ heartbreak.

She said: “Those whose loved ones are in homes have a right to know that their family members are safe and being given the care they deserve and, when failings are identified, the findings of subsequent investigations made public. Only then can they rest assured that lessons have been learnt.”

Dean suffered from severe arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis that left him reliant on a wheelchair. He was living with his parents in Hailsham with help from round-the-clock carers.

Mrs Spicer, 66, said: “When Dean was admitted to Havelock House we expected him to be in for a few days while he recovered from his illness.”

She added: “We hope the concerns raised in the CQC report have been tackled and learnt from so no other family has to go through the heartache that we have.”

A East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We carried out a safeguarding investigation following the death of Dean Spicer.

“Due to reasons of confidentiality we cannot comment on individual cases.”

Mr Dhunnoo said: “The family has been compensated by my insurers without us admitting liability.

“The coroner’s report said he died from natural causes. There was an investigation by social services and the report does not blame us at all (for his death).

“There was a recommendation to review our procedures which we have done. They have monitored us and as far as I know they are happy with us.

“It was an emergency admission out of hours and we did not have all the necessary information to prepare a care plan for him at that time.

“He was the person giving consent and we had to abide by his wishes and he said on the night in question he didn’t want to be disturbed.

“Over the years we have had many happy residents at the home.”