AN ELDERLY expat was needlessly chained to her bed before enduring a ‘humiliating and agonising death’ in Torrevieja Hospital, her family claim.
Kathleen Marshall was a 73-year-old British grandmother with residential status and full entitlement to healthcare here in Spain.
When her family saw the first signs of what they thought was dementia, her doctor revealed she needed rehydrating, due to bouts of not eating or drinking enough.
But after being admitted to Torrevieja Hospital, her family were horrified to see that she was handcuffed to her bed and forced to wear a nappy.
This undignified arrangement was in place despite the fact that the former Vauxhall and Electrolux worker could readily wash herself and use the toilet.
Son George and his wife Sharon, could not get satisfactory answers from staff about what they saw as “humiliating treatment”, even with the help of their bilingual 18-year-old daughter, Rhianna.
The family exclusively told The Olive Press that being forced to stay in the same position in bed, sores quickly developed at the base of Kathleen’s back.
Nursing staff reassured the family that she’d be cared for properly, when the family weren’t there to look after her themselves.
However, even when her family WERE in attendance, photographic evidence revealed that staff cared more about their social media profiles than the patients.
The Marshalls, who had all moved to Spain from Luton in 2000, told how staff routinely disconnected emergency help buttons on the ward, ignored cries for help from many patients and were “never off their phones.”
George Marshall, 51, said: “If this happened in the UK, it would be considered nothing but abuse.”
Rehydration and possible dementia later became the very least of Kathleen’s problems as the bedsores became infected from her nappy and bedclothes not being changed regularly, it is claimed.
Even without medical training, George knew that sores could be fatal if left untreated.
He was later astounded to discover that his mum had spent all this time in care without any pain relief.
After noticing that Kathy was constantly grimacing, he asked nursing staff to confirm what painkillers had been administered.
He he was given the reply: “Oh, do you think she needs some?”, after days of the infected sores now eating into her flesh and bones.
A hastily-arranged morphine treatment left Kathleen incredibly nauseous, but staff allegedly hadn’t noticed that constant vomiting had dislodged her feeding pipe.
Consequently, fluids were fed directly into her lungs, and she developed respiratory problems as a result.
After two agonising weeks, Kathleen was briefly allowed home into the care of her family, but it soon transpired she had septicaemia from what had developed into Stage 4 bedsores.
A return to the same hospital saw her die within a week, less than a month after being first admitted for a simple rehydration treatment.
On her last full day, grand-daughter Rhianna asked if a monitor could be briefly fitted so that Kathleen’s final few heartbeats could be printed off as a keepsake.
The teen, who described her nan as her ‘best friend’, was denied that request by a senior nurse but she revealed ‘the final insult’ came the following day when her grandmother died.
She cried: “They did hook up a heart monitor to confirm that she had passed, but the same senior nurse then offered me a printout of her heartbeat as a keepsake – it was a flatline.”
Her father admitted: “Mum is definitely in a better place now, but her passing should have been a dignified affair with her family by her side, not alone and handcuffed to a bed in bloody agony up until her final breath.”
He went on to add that his mother’s death certificate mentioned three reasons for her passing: respiratory problems, dementia and then the ulcer.
Mr Marshall is considering forming a collective of other families whose loved ones have suffered in similar ways at Torrevieja Hospital, admitting that a group approach is more likely to get answers to the questions over treatment.
NB: All images have been provided and approved by the Marshall family for exclusive use by the Olive Press.