Mum of disabled son who died in Sheffield care home says inquest into his death ‘failed’

The mother of a young man with Down’s Syndrome and autism who died after collapsing in a Sheffield care home has expressed disappointment at the inquest into his death.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 8:32 am

Paula Rawnsley fought for more than five years for a full investigation into the death of her 20-year-old son, Thomas, who died from a heart attack after collapsing at Kingdom House care home, Woodhouse Mill, after developing a chest infection.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Thomas Rawnsley, 20, died in a care home in Sheffield at the age of 20

Mrs Rawnsley, from Bradford, said she was hoping an inquest would examine the background to the death of her son, who had been transferred to Sheffield against his family’s wishes.

Read More

Read More
Sheffield United among worst fans in Britain for hate crimes, new figures reveal

But she said it failed to examine wider failings in his care.

An inquest jury concluded that Mr Rawnsley died of natural causes, on the direction of Sheffield assistant coroner Abigail Combes.

Ms Combes told the jury that, despite listening to evidence since the beginning of September, natural causes was the only conclusion available for them to reach.

Mrs Rawnsley said: “When he was moved to Sheffield to a ‘specialist service’ run by Lifeways, this was against his and our wishes.

“Thomas’s physical and mental health declined rapidly and his family screamed out for help.

“Six months later he was dead.”

Mrs Rawnsley said: “We trusted in the coronial process however the inquest wasn’t able to examine any of the wider failings in care, the abuse he suffered, the lack of trauma support or why Thomas couldn’t live in his local community.

“It simply looked at the last five days of his life.

“The jury were instructed that the only finding they could reach was that Thomas died from natural causes. We are left wondering how it can be natural for a fit and healthy 20-year-old to die from a chest infection.”

During spells in a home in West Yorkshire, in 2012 and 2013, Mr Rawnsley was abused by a care worker.

He was placed at Kingdom House, operated by the firm Lifeways, in 2014 by order of the Court of Protection from a unit in Bradford which struggled to cope with his complex needs.

He suffered a cardiac arrest on February 2, 2015, brought on by a chest infection and died two days later in hospital.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.