A dementia sufferer was left locked on a bus for almost three hours – after staff from the Alzheimer’s Society FORGOT to drop her off.
The unnamed woman, believed to be in her 80s, had used the free shuttle service which takes dementia suffers from their homes to day care services.
But staff on board the bus forgot to ensure she got off the vehicle and she remained locked inside when it returned to its depot.
The pensioner was discovered by staff at the Middlefields depot, in South Shields, South Tyneside, after they heard her screaming and shouting for help.
It is thought the vehicle had been parked up at 4pm by one of the workers from the Alzheimer’s Society and she was discovered at 6.30pm.
She was not returned home for another two hours after council staff were called to release her from the minibus.
A council employee, who asked not to be named, said: “She was screaming and shouting and she was really upset, crying and cold.
“She had been there for hours. If someone hadn’t have found her, she wouldn’t have lasted the night. If it was my mother or nana, I would be absolutely disgusted.”
Two people from the Alzheimer’s Society have been suspended while an investigation is carried out.
An initial report into the circumstances of what happened has been completed, but the charity is continuing to look into what happened last Tuesday (Nov 4).
Helen Foster, Alzheimer’s Society regional director in the North, said: “Alzheimer’s Society takes the wellbeing and safety of everyone using our services very seriously.
“On this occasion mistakes were made that led to this very unfortunate incident.
“We have apologised whole-heartedly to the individual and their family that in this instance we fell below the standard of care and support that we usually deliver in the care of our vulnerable service users.
“We are sorry for the distress that this has caused to the family.
“An internal investigation was launched immediately into the circumstances under which this incident took place and a full report has now been completed as a result.
“Two members of staff have also been suspended. Strict and comprehensive protocols have been now been put in place to ensure the safety of individuals travelling home from our services in the future.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “From the moment we became aware of this incident, we took action and continue to take the matter extremely seriously.
“We have been in communication with the Alzheimer’s Society from an early stage and have urged them to identify exactly what went wrong on this occasion and to review procedures in consultation with our officers.
“Our priority is to ensure that users of services funded by the council are well looked after and safe.
“The council is considering what further action needs to be taken under the contract and we will be discussing that with the Alzheimer’s Society in the coming days.”