Siobhan Cator, a former support worker at the Priory Oaks and Woodcroft home, gave evidence to the coroner today at Peter’s second inquest. She was questioned for 1hrs 45minutes by the coroner Jacqueline Lake, Mr Cridland for Peter’s family and Ms Sutton for the Priory Group.
She ended her evidence with Ms Sutton asking her whether she was misunderstood in her recollection about 1-1 support, and that none of the other members of staff remember the suggestion that as long as you were within 12 foot of someone that was sufficient for 1-1. Ms Cator’s reply:
It was explained to me by Debbie, and Lynn, and even the team leader would tell you. They’d spout things at you, as support worker you had to take their word for it, even if you didn’t agree and you’d raise it, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
I have stood on my own in this, I did the police statement and that was only statement I gave. When I did my statement to the Priory they sent it back to me completely changed.
I will not sit in a court of law and say that, all those people you’re talking about are probably covering their own backs, I wont, and that’s why I wont give a statement to Priory and I’m on my own.
Ms Cator, who wasn’t called to give evidence at Peter’s first inquest, had told the Police when they were investigating Peter’s death that she’d raised concerns “on numerous occasions” that there were not enough staff to provide 1-1 support and that they needed more staff on duty.
When asked by the Coroner who she raised it with, she said she raised it in staff meetings “but I’ve since heard they were not documented”, and verbally with managers at the home. When asked for specific names of staff she raised it with she mentioned Deborah Cuzner, Deputy Manager, a manager called Lynn, and her team leaders, Gemma Peloe and Lauren.
Coroner: So who did you raise it with?
SC: Definitely with Debbie. Gemma was a team leader, I definitely raised it with her. I raised it with Lauren, although she probably gave a shrug of her shoulders, bless her. And with Sue, but I dont think she was team leader at this time…. I’d have said to Sue it wasn’t right, raised it amongst ourselves, I wasn’t the only person to say there wasn’t enough staff.
C: are you saying you did raise this with Gemma?
SC: I believe so, yes
C: and you did raise this with Lauren?
C: and you did raise this with Debbie Cuzner?
C: and with Lynn. What’s Lynn’s surname?
SC: I can’t remember
C: did you raise it with anyone else?
SC: No, I think I should have done now. At times we were understaffed, at times there weren’t enough staff to provide the care and support that these people deserved, because of sickness or people being away unwell, different things. But there were times when we didn’t have the staff and we’d have to make do and mend, that’s not a flippant statement, we’d have to break ourselves up as best we can.
C: you raised this in staff meetings, can you remember how many times?
SC: no, I can’t, but I think they got a bit bored of me saying it.
Ms Cator recalled being told “as long as you could see that person you could carry on with other tasks or activities” however she strongly disagreed that this was an acceptable interpretation of 1-1 support.
Asked what her understanding of 1-1 support meant by Mr Cridland, she responded:
“You’re with that one person on your own with no distractions or others, but that wasn’t always how it could be”.
Ms Cator responded to another of Mr Cridland’s questions about her raising her concerns:
SC: No. I loved the job, best job I ever had. My worry was we were given guidance of what these people required and deserved, and we weren’t giving them what they deserved. That bothered me.
Mr Cridland: Did you raise it in those specific terms
SC: Yes, and that’s when I was told as long as you could see them, in 12ft that was ok. And I said its not fine.
Mr C: who told you that?
SC: Lynn told me once, Debbie told me on more than one occasion.
Mr C: what did you understand them to mean by that [12ft]?
SC: Their argument when I said 1-1 care is 1-1 and you’re that person’s 1-1 for the length of time you say you are, that’s what that person should have…. To say you could be in 12ft of them, whilst cleaning teeth of someone over here, or supervising make a cup of tea, I’m not 1-1.
Mr C: you understood that as long as you were in 12ft of resident needing 1-1, if you were cleaning another resident’s teeth, that would still amount to providing that resident who required it 1-1 care?
SC: Yes that’s what I was told, but that isn’t right.
She was questioned by Ms Sutton, for the Priory Group and Oaks and Woodcroft Care Home, about this issue.
ES: the concerns you raised, you were there almost 2yrs, you haven’t as yet given any detail of when in that two year period you’ve raised concerns
SC: It would be in staff meetings
SC: I can’t give you date and time now. I’m not someone who sits back and turns a blind eye, if something is wrong I’m going to say it.
I can’t give you a date and time and if it wasn’t documented I can’t change that, but I can raise issues if I have issues and concerns, which I did.
ES: you raised verbally in staff meetings as opposed to anything in writing?
ES: you’ve said things weren’t changing. Why didn’t you escalate it, if it bothered you a lot?
SC: I raised it to the manager, where can I go from that? If I’m told it’s ok? Now I can see perhaps I should have found where I go next, my concern was for the people that lived there rather than the politics and everything else, I’m sorry it’s about their care
ES: you said you thought you told Ms Cuzner. Ms Cuzner gave evidence clearly yesterday that you didn’t raise any such concerns with her. Could you be mistaken that you raised it with Ms Cuzner?
SC: No, no. If things weren’t reported that’s because it was their choices, not because of what people said.
ES: it’s the first time you’re providing this detail almost 6 years later, why didn’t you provide when you told police if it bothered you so much?
SC: Because I answered their questions, I didn’t just reel off things, I answered in relation to the questions asked of me
C: and I would have to say it is included in Ms Cator’s statement to the police
ES: the names of the staff, the level of detail I was asking, sorry if that wasn’t clear. You said in relation to Lauren she’d just shrug her shoulders and you said “oh bless her”
SC: That was Lauren’s way. You learnt different people, you’d say Lauren this is wrong, she’d go yeh, she took it on board, into her head but whether anything changed. It’s really difficult.
ES: finally, in relation to this issue about 12 feet and understanding that was sufficient to equate to 1-1 support. Gemma Peloe, Sue Maunder and Debbie Cuzner will say 1-1 meant 1-1 and no-one has any recollection of this 12ft so can you explain to me who told you that and when?
SC: It was explained to me by Debbie, and Lynn, and even the team leader would tell you. They’d spout things at you, as support worker you had to take their word for it, even if you didn’t agree and you’d raise it, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I have stood on my own in this, I did the police statement and that was only statement I gave. When I did my statement to the Priory they sent it back to me completely changed. I will not sit in a court of law and say that, all those people you’re talking about are probably covering their own backs, I wont, and that’s why I wont give a statement to Priory and I’m on my own.
ES: Ms Cator, it could be your mistaken, after all you’re telling the coroner for the first time and the recollection of others is correct?
SC: No. No.
Peter’s 2nd inquest continues.