A man whose mother suffered a broken shoulder during an alleged assault and slept in a room covered in mould has been dragged through a six-month court battle by the owner of the care home she was in.
Keith Hume took his 91-year-old mother, Mabel, out of the Catterall House Residential Care Home in Catterall, near Garstang last July, after making a string of complaints.
Just days later, care home owner Ramesh Gulati made a claim against him for £1,300 to cover the month’s notice which Mr Hume failed to give of his mother’s departure.
He also demanded interest and a £20 “daily rate” which would have been payable from last summer.
This week a court threw out the claim after Dr Gulati failed to turn up. But today, as care watchdogs confirmed the care home has now been given a clean bill of health, its owner insisted he was right to chase Mr Hume for the money.
Former GP Ramesh Gulati has been accused of wasting court time after failing to show up to a hearing he had demanded for the past six months.
Keith Hume, 60, of Cottam, Preston, said he had been “enraged” when he received a £1,312 demand through the small claims court to cover a month’s notice he should have given owner Mr Gulati for removing his mother from a care home.
But the claim was thrown out by a judge at Preston County Court on Tuesday after Dr Gulati failed to show up.
Mr Hume said the home had breached an agreement to keep his 91-year-old mother, Mabel, in a “warm, comfortable and safe environment” after she claimed she was assaulted by a fellow resident in her room at Catterall House Residential Care Home in Catterall, near Garstang, last year.
The home said no evidence of an assault was found.
Mr Hume also told the court of catalogue of complaints he had made about the condition of his mother’s room, where mould was found under the carpet.
Today, Dr Gulati said he had been unable to attend the hearing due to an illness in his family and insisted he had tried to strike a deal with Mr Hume to stop the case getting to court.
Mr Hume said: “When I received the court claim form, I was outraged. I could not believe after all my mother had been through he was going to do this.
“But then to string this out for six months, keep it hanging over us and then withdraw at the last minute, I find the whole thing disgusting.”
He said he had taken his mother out of the care home due to “genuine worries about her personal safety.”
Mr Hume added: “It was never about the money, my mother is paying all her own fees so there is no personal gain for either her or me, I feared for her safety in there.
“When I got the claim because I had not given any notice, I said the home had breached the terms and conditions they had agreed with my mother by failing to provide a warm, comfortable and safe environment.
“The way I see it, they breached the contract first, which is why I could not believe it when the claim came through.”
In the claim made by Dr Gulati, he was pursuing Mr Hume for the money for removing his mother “without giving adequate notice.”
In response, Mr Hume said his mother had been attacked in her room in last March by “a much younger physically able female resident.”
He added: “We had already had issues with maintenance and conditions, including fungus and mushrooms growing through the carpet.”
In emails seen by the Evening Post, Mr Hume and his brother, David, had raised concerns with Dr Gulati about issues with the home following the assault allegation last February.
He said he would be contacting the industry watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, and social services at Lancashire County Council about the incidents involving his mother at the care home.
A spokesman for the CQC confirmed it had raised “minor concerns” with the operator of Catterall House when it visited last May but had made a follow-up visit earlier this month and given the care home a clean bill of health. In a report from the visit in May, the watchdog said it found a lack of paperwork relating to residents’ care and support which could “potentially result in their care needs not being met”, the visit also highlighted “insufficient choices” on the menu.
It also raised issues around the premises which it said were “in need of improvement in order to raise the overall standard of the premises.”
The latest CQC report, which followed a visit earlier this month, showed Catterall House had answered all concerns raised during the May visit.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We do not comment on individual cases. However, if concerns are raised about any care home in Lancashire we will make sure they are looked into.”
In a brief hearing at Preston County Court earlier this week, District Judge Michael Anson told Mr Hume that Dr Gulati had contacted the court on the day of the hearing to say he was dropping his claim.
During the hearing, Mr Hume said he had asked for the £22,000 he had paid the care home in fees for his mother’s stay to be reimbursed for the distress of the case.
He told the judge: “He (Dr Gulati) has put me through six months of aggravation, this an abuse of the court system.”
District Judge Anson said he could “understand the frustration” of Mr Hume but could not comment on the case, which he dismissed.
Mr Hume said his mother was now “safe and comfortable” at another care home in the Preston area.
All we were asked to do, we did
The owner of Catterall House has said care watchdogs have given his home a clean bill of health.
Dr Ramesh Gulati, who has owned the home in Catterall, near Garstang, for 12 years, said inspectors had found no evidence Mrs Hume had been assaulted in her room and claimed the injuries were “most likely the result of a fall.”
He admitted there “were some issues”, such as a leak which had left parts of the home with damp, but said they had now been dealt with.
Dr Gulati, of Hesketh Bank, said: “There may have been a delay (in making repairs) but these are only minor jobs and it can be quite difficult to get people in to do this kind of work quickly.
“The CQC (Care Quality Commission) and social services have both been to inspect us and they did not find any evidence (of an assault on Mrs Hume).
“Everything they asked us to do, we have done.”
Of his decision to take Mr Hume to court, Dr Gulati added he had paid nearly £200 to take the case to mediation, where he offered Mr Hume the opportunity to halve the £1,312 bill.
Mr Hume rejected the offer.
Dr Gulati said: “My claim was absolutely valid and in principle I am justified to ask for payment to cover the notice period.
“(Mr Hume) had an opportunity to go to mediation and he chose not to.”
Manager Barbara Cartmell said the home’s staff had been left “very upset” that Mr Hume had not given his mother a card wishing her well in her new home.
She said: “I just hope Mabel is fine. My concern is for Mabel.”