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Inquest begins into disabled woman found collapsed in Newbury Park care home

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 March 2015 | UPDATED: 10:58 05 March 2015

The inquest into the death of Robin Callender at Walthamstow Coroner's Court

The inquest into the death of Robin Callender at Walthamstow Coroner's Court

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A partially sighted severely autistic woman died after collapsing in a care home following a period of vomiting and diarrhoea, an inquest heard.

Robin Kitt Callender, 53, who was blind in one eye and had limited verbal communication, visited a GP three times with workers from Perrymans Care Home, in Abbey Road, Newbury Park, between February and May 23 – the day she died.

She collapsed in the care home in the evening on May 22, weighing around five stone 12 pounds, and later died in hospital.

In the week before her death she had lost around 12 pounds following bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Speaking at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court this week, sister Karen Caplan said: “As a baby she failed to develop normally. From about the age of six months it was apparent she was not making the developments that were normal.

“She was diagnosed with autism from early age. Nothing much was known about autism back in the 60s.”

With sister Joan Sherril and her son Adam watching on, Ms Caplan added: “There was no other way to describe her but heroic – she did everything expected of her.”

Ms Caplan revealed her sister struggled to build relationships on any level with men as she often “she did not feel comfortable”.

“She did not like to be physically examined,” she said. “She was not great at touching other people, until she began to trust them, then it was a different matter.

“We had to accompany her to any appointment. There was no way a dentist could work on her unless she was sedated.

“If she felt threatened she would resist.”

Robert Mapother, the care home manager, called Ms Caplan at 8.30pm on the day she collapsed.

But having taken sleeping pills before picking up the care home’s call she was forced to wait until the next day before visiting her sister.

“When I first saw Robin I was horrified,” she said. “Her skin colour was yellow and was a clammy texture.”

Ms Callender died later in hospital.

Concluding her evidence, Ms Caplan said: “My sister died without adequate medical care or the love and support of the people closest to her.
“We mourn our sister every day and we will warn about the method of her passing for the rest of our lives.”

The inquest continues.

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