INQUEST: Nurse shocked to find patient on flat mattress

Department of Communities staff members Melissa Thomsen and Michael Packman leave Maroochydore Court House after giving evidence at a coroner’s inquest into the death of Leah Floyd.
Department of Communities staff members Melissa Thomsen and Michael Packman leave Maroochydore Court House after giving evidence at a coroner’s inquest into the death of Leah Floyd. Stuart Cumming

BLUE Care nurse Joanne Martin was shocked to find quadriplegic mother-of-two Leah Floyd's specialised air mattress had completely deflated when she visited her bedside less than a fortnight before her death.

Ms Martin was among those who gave evidence in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Wednesday during the third day of a coroner's inquest into Mrs Floyd's October 2013 death.

Mrs Floyd had been using an electronically-regulated air mattress to help manage a pressure sore on her lower back while staying at disability accommodation provider BE Lifestyle's Yandina Creek house.

Ms Martin said the mattress's plug was switched off at the wall and Mrs Floyd was lying on her back on a hard bed base when she arrived to inspect her wound on the afternoon of September 27, 2013.

She was concerned about how long Mrs Floyd had been in that position, as the carer on shift did not know how long the mattress had been deflated.

Other incidents from Mrs Floyd's time with BE Lifestyle were also investigated, with former staff member Kerry-Anne Cooke describing how she believed Mrs Floyd had intentionally driven her wheelchair into traffic at a Coolum shopping centre car park during an outing in late August.

She said Mrs Floyd had looked at her, looked at a reversing four-wheel-drive and then kept going into its path.

"I was quite distressed at the time because I could see what was going to happen," Ms Cooke said.

A crash was avoided, but Mrs Floyd was subsequently taken on September 5 to Nambour General Hospital and admitted to its mental health ward.

She remained there until being discharged on September 19 back to the Yandina Creek care home at which she had been previously staying.

Department of Communities employee Melissa Thomsen, who was North Coast acting regional service team manager at the time, gave evidence that BE Lifestyle managing director Belinda Wardlaw had wanted to impose rules on Mrs Floyd on her return.

Ms Thomsen said Ms Wardlaw understood Mrs Floyd did not have the capacity to make decisions for herself, but she went on to discover that notion was not backed up by staff at Nambour General Hospital or the Queensland Spinal Cord Injuries Service.

The court heard the proposed rules included no visits from children, no community access visits, no smoking and no discussing ending her life to staff.

Ms Thomsen started crying after being asked why the proposition distressed her.

"It causes me distress because Leah had a spinal injury, she didn't have a cognitive impairment," Ms Thomsen said.

Her Maroochydore-based colleague Michael Packman, who worked Mrs Floyd after her return from Nambour hospital, said Mrs Floyd had expressed a positive outlook for her future.

Mr Packman also became emotional when recalling his dealings with Mrs Floyd.

"She mainly spoke of a future with her children and that she would like to spend more quality time with them," Mr Packman said.

"She said that they were in good hands with (her husband) Stuart and he was a wonderful father."

Mr Packman said Ms Floyd had been happy with her treatment from carers at BE Lifestyle but she thought management wanted to get her out of the facility.

Others who gave evidence on Wednesday included former Blue Care nurse Charmaine Rawlings and former BE Lifestyle carer Nicole Gesell.

Those scheduled to give evidence on Thursday include Ms Wardlaw.

Topics:  blue care care coroner's inquest department department of communities disability editors picks nambour general hospital quadriplegic sunshine coast yandina creek

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