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Daughter’s fight for answers after ‘gentle, caring’ dad dies of coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 11:01 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 23 April 2020

Sisters Lisa and Clare with dad Dennis Ely Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Sisters Lisa and Clare with dad Dennis Ely Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

The daughter of a “gentle, caring” 82-year-old from Ipswich is demanding answers from his care home after she was not told he was ill for several days.

The 82-year-old loved music, particularly Elvis Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYThe 82-year-old loved music, particularly Elvis Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Dennis Ely, a resident at Asterbury Place, developed coronavirus symptoms earlier this month and was admitted to Ipswich Hospital.

Mr Ely, who grew up in Ipswich and worked at W.S. Cowells printing company, tested positive for Covid-19 and died two days later, on Good Friday.

Now the 82-year-old’s daughter Lisa Hovell has criticised a lack of communication from the care home.

Mr Ely’s notes reveal he told carers he was “going to die today” several hours before paramedics arrived.

“I don’t feel I had any communication over my dad’s demise,” said Mrs Hovell, who described her father as “a gentle, caring and loving dad” to her and sister Clare.

Dennis Ely, who died in hospital after contracting coronavirus Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYDennis Ely, who died in hospital after contracting coronavirus Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“He was obviously very unwell for a good few days before he went to hospital.

“But they didn’t let me know. In his care plan, on the Wednesday morning (April 8) before he went to hospital in the evening, it says carers went in and spoke to him.

“He rang his bell to ask for the time, and they’ve put in the plan ‘I told him the time, and he told me that he is going to die today’. I just feel I should have been informed a lot better.”

Bosses at the home, in Aster Road, said they were “very sorry about any confusion” with regards to communicating with Mr Ely’s family.

They said it may have resulted from different team members trying to be helpful during what is an “extremely busy time” in the home, with the team “very focused on supporting each other and residents”.

Dennis Ely in his younger years Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYDennis Ely in his younger years Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

While her father was in hospital, Mrs Hovell called the care home to notify them about his positive coronavirus test and his death a few hours later.

MORE: Coronavirus-related deaths in Suffolk and north Essex top 400

She says she was told extra precautions would be rolled out, with residents kept in their rooms.

“I said to them, surely they should have been doing that in the first place,” Mrs Hovell added.

“My dad was the one person who was furthest away from everyone else.

“He was never a social person, bless him, he was always in his room, I just don’t understand how this happened.

Dennis Ely lived in Ipswich all his life Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYDennis Ely lived in Ipswich all his life Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“It doesn’t seem as if this was taken seriously until my dad died.

She continued: “After that call, I tried to get hold of the home to speak to management about my concerns and it took them four days to get back to me. I really thought that was disgraceful.

“I had a list of questions I said I would like answered, and I don’t feel they answered any of them.

“I kept getting hung up on and I was getting so frustrated.”

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She claimed: “When I asked a carer and the paramedics if there was anyone else in the home with symptoms, they both said yes.

“But when I called to ask management they said there weren’t any.
“They then said ‘we’ve got it contained’.

“I’m worried now about the other residents, are the families aware? I can’t do anything about my dad now.

“I also asked if anyone else had died because of this, and they said they couldn’t answer that.

“They also said they’d been busy, which is why they didn’t get back to me – I know that, we’ve all been busy.

“But this is my dad’s home, and we deserve to know why this happened.”

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Asterbury Place, run by Care UK, recently confirmed two virus-related deaths at the facility in Aster Road.

Care UK’s regional director Phillip Steyn said: “We are deeply saddened by this death and offer our thoughts and condolences to their family and friends.

“We are regularly reviewing how we communicate with relatives during these challenging times and are learning from our experiences so that we can make improvements to how we keep relatives updated as effectively as possible.

“I am very grateful to the team at Asterbury Place who continue to deliver the very best care in a kind and professional way.

He added: “I’d like to reassure everyone, including relatives of those in the home, that we are doing everything in our power to keep people safe and comfortable.”

MORE: Fears over ‘chaotic’ testing centre as patient is wrongly sent away

The team is keeping relatives updated about to the current situation at the home through regular phone calls and letters, a spokeswoman added, and the home has access to a full supply of personal protective equipment.

Any staff member showing symptoms which could indicate coronavirus, or has met someone outside the home with symptoms, is being advised to self-isolate and to take a test in line with official guidelines.

‘Dad will be missed by so many’

Mrs Hovell paid further tribute to her father, who lived in Ipswich his entire life.

She said: “He had a big family with a lot of brothers and sisters. “

“He really enjoyed listening to music, Elvis being his absolute favourite.

“As we got older, we still had lots of contact and he really enjoyed spending time with all the grandchildren and of late the great grandchildren. He suffered with mental health issues for the last 15 years which eventually led to him going into a care home.

“He had been at Asterbury Place since it opened.

“We took him out on regular trips to the seaside and he would come to my home once a fortnight to play cards.

“He really was a beautiful person inside and out, always willing to help anyone he could.

“He was quite a solitary person, only really feeling comfortable with his family. He will be missed by so many people.”

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