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Caregiver had no training for disabled, inquest hears

Jun 13 2012

The Community Living B.C. caregiver who looked after 76-year-old Joan Andrews in her Langford home had no special training to care for the aging and developmentally disabled woman.

Andrews lived with the Craveiro family from 2009 until her death Feb. 10, 2011, when she climbed out of her bed and fell, suffering a head injury that likely killed her within minutes, a coroner's inquest heard Tuesday.

Carol Craveiro said she had her basic first aid certificate but was asked for no other qualifications or training by CLBC, the government agency that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. CLBC approved Craveiro and her home for home placements seven years ago.

The inquest is looking at the circumstances surrounding Andrews' death, focusing on how the community-care system - CLBC - and the health system - the Vancouver Island Health Authority - provide services and communicate with each other.

Andrews suffered a brain injury at birth and had the mental abilities of a six-or seven-year-old. She was cared for by her parents until she was almost 50. The parents left a trust fund to pay for her care and Andrews lived in a home run by family friends until it closed. She then moved to a private group home, where she lived for almost 18 years before a friend helped her move out of the dark and cramped place. It was later condemned.

Andrews loved living with the Craveiros and was treated as a member of the family. But her care needs were getting more complex as she aged. Andrews fell several times, including one fall in November 2009 that put her in hospital for three weeks.

That time, she lay on the floor by her bed for hours.

Craveiro knew Andrews didn't sleep through the night and often got up and wandered, putting her at risk. But the elderly woman had started new medication that day that usually meant she would sleep through the night for five to seven hours, Craveiro testified.

Craveiro checked on her at midnight, then returned to wake her at 7 a.m. and found her on the floor. Doctors testified that she had been unconscious for hours.

After that, Craveiro got a baby monitor to keep in Andrews' room, which she also equipped with a hospital bed, hoping the rails would stop Andrews from climbing out and hurting herself.

When that didn't work, she moved the mattress onto the floor. But the day before Andrews' fatal fall, Craveiro moved the mattress back up on the bed. Andrews hadn't been breathing well and her doctor said she had a form of asthma and needed puffers. Craveiro testified that she wanted Andrews' head propped up in the hospital bed for proper airflow.

About 6: 45 a.m., Craveiro heard movement on the baby monitor and went to check on Andrews. She was on the floor, face down, but was conscious and trying to move.

Craveiro tearfully told the jury how she ran to call 911, then returned to the room and found Andrews unconscious and not breathing. She began CPR immediately and continued until the fire department arrived 15 minutes later.

Doctors testified that the head injury could have occurred when Andrews hit the floor, a concrete slab covered by carpet, and would have killed her within minutes.

The inquest continues today.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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