BE Lifestyle managing director Belinda Wardlaw has faced questions about the care of Leah Floyd.
BE Lifestyle managing director Belinda Wardlaw has faced questions about the care of Leah Floyd. Warren Lynam

Care boss blames others for paraplegic mum's demise

BE LIFESTYLE director Belinda Wardlaw concedes she supplied incorrect information to the Coroner when she wrote to him nearly a year after the death of a woman who had been in her company's care.

Ms Wardlaw appeared on a video connection from Hobart Coroner's Court when an inquest into the death of quadriplegic mother-of-two Leah Floyd resumed in Maroochydore on Monday.

She had been unable to return to the Coast from Tasmania to give evidence in person due to health issues.

Mrs Floyd, 48, died in Nambour General Hospital on October 10, 2013, six weeks after she moved into BE Lifestyle's Yandina Creek accommodation facility.

Barrister David Schneidewin noted Ms Wardlaw had written to the Coroner in September 2014 that a pressure wound which Mrs Floyd had on her lower back had deteriorated when she returned to the home after a two-week stay in Nambour General Hospital's psychiatric ward.

Ms Wardlaw said she had based the statement on notes made on September 20, 2013, by former BE Lifestyle house supervisor Andrea Messer.

But when shown Ms Messer's notes from that day, Ms Wardlaw agreed there was no mention of the wound's condition and the statement had been incorrect.

Ms Wardlaw also agreed the letter showed that BE Lifestyle accepted no responsibility for Mrs Floyd's demise.

The letter, signed by Ms Wardlaw, blamed factors including inconsistent information from Department of Communities, Nambour General Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital's spinal care team.

It also attributed responsibility on Mrs Floyd for not failing to seek medical treatment as well as Blue Care for not responding to requests for urgent attention.

But after further questioning, Ms Wardlaw conceded there had been some systemic failures which contributed to Mrs Floyd's demise.

She said everyone at BE Lifestyle had been doing their best.

Mr Schneidewin asked Ms Wardlaw if a set of 10 rules, which were written down as a file note, were devised by BE Lifestyle for Mrs Floyd to follow when she returned on September 19 from the Nambour pscyhiatric ward.

They included that Mrs Floyd not be allowed visits from her children and that she pay her bills weekly.

Ms Wardlaw said the rules had been compiled by Mrs Floyd's mother.

Mr Schneidewin asked why Mrs Floyd's mother would have made the weekly payment rule, suggesting the rules were made by BE Lifestyle for their own benefit, rather than the benefit of Mrs Floyd or her mother.

Ms Wardlaw denied the suggestion, saying the rules were not put in place.

Former BE Lifestyle house supervisor Ms Messer also gave evidence on Monday.

She was house supervisor for the Yandina Creek facility as well as three other Coast facilities during her time with BE Lifestyle between April and October 2013.

Ms Messer said she had voiced concerns to her former boss Ms Wardlaw before Mrs Floyd was discharged from the Princess Alexandra Hospital's spinal care unit to the Yandina Creek facility on August 28, 2013.

She was worried the facility did not have the means necessary to cope with Mrs Floyd's mental health needs.

"That was expressed to Belinda (Wardlaw) before she (Mrs Floyd) even came to us, and ignored," Ms Messer said.

She said she was ultimately fired by Ms Wardlaw on October 1, 2013, five days before Mrs Floyd left the home for the last time.

Ms Messer said she couldn't recall if anything else was said or if Mrs Floyd's situation was mentioned during the meeting.

She said she had taken with restrictions imparted on Mrs Floyd being allowed to have her children visit her.

She said Ms Wardlaw had promised Mrs Floyd her children would be allowed to visit and stay but that changed after Ms Wardlaw spoke with Mrs Floyd's mother.

Ms Messer understood Mrs Floyd's mother had told Ms Wardlaw her daughter was a liar.

She said it changed "absolutely everything" in relation to Ms Wardlaw's outlook on Mrs Floyd and stopped all plans of Mrs Floyd's children coming to visit her.

Ms Messer said she did not want to work in an environment like that.

However, she said she had no concerns about the standard of personal care Mrs Floyd or any other BE Lifestyle client was receiving.

"In my opinion, they (the carers) always went above and beyond," Ms Messer said.

Nambour General Hospital psychiatrist Dr Anar Taumanova also gave evidence on Monday.

Dr Taumanova met with Mrs Floyd three times during her September 2013 stay in the Nambour psychiatric ward.

She said Mrs Floyd appeared to genuinely want to connect with her children and was looking forward to seeing them.

The inquest will resume on Tuesday, with Ms Wardlaw scheduled to face more questions.