Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Ulleri’s sister Ria breaks silence over brother’s death

The sister of a 61-year-old man with Down’s syndrome who died after going without food for 10 days, because of ‘miscommunication and inaction’ by hospital staff, has spoken of her heartbreak.

Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Ulleri suffered an unexplained fall at home in Withington, Manchester, and was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) on February 26, 2016. 

He passed away less than a month later, after poor communication between medical staff and delays over deciding how best to feed him left him without nutrition for 10 days, causing him to lose 2st 12lbs.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her brother’s death, Ria Ulleri said Giuseppe was ‘sweet and funny’, and that her family did not know the extent of his neglect while he was in hospital. 

‘It wasn’t until the inquest that we learned just how much Joe had been neglected. It was horrific. It seemed so cruel,’ she said.

‘All through Joe’s life, we had fought for him to be included and treated with respect. 

‘Yet at the very end, he was failed by the people who were supposed to look after him.’ 

Speaking publicly for the first time since her brother's death, Ria Ulleri said Giuseppe  Ulleri was 'sweet and funny' and that her family did not know the extent of his neglect until his inquest

Speaking publicly for the first time since her brother's death, Ria Ulleri said Giuseppe  Ulleri was 'sweet and funny' and that her family did not know the extent of his neglect until his inquest

Speaking publicly for the first time since her brother’s death, Ria Ulleri said Giuseppe  Ulleri was ‘sweet and funny’ and that her family did not know the extent of his neglect until his inquest

Giuseppe 'Joe' Ulleri suffered an unexplained fall at home in Withington, Manchester, and was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) on February 26, 2016. Less than a month later he passed away after 10 days without food

Giuseppe 'Joe' Ulleri suffered an unexplained fall at home in Withington, Manchester, and was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) on February 26, 2016. Less than a month later he passed away after 10 days without food

Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Ulleri suffered an unexplained fall at home in Withington, Manchester, and was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) on February 26, 2016. Less than a month later he passed away after 10 days without food

Ria, 48, an actress from London, said: ‘Joe was a sweet and funny man, but he needed support. It is tragic that the people he relied on to care for him were the ones who let him down.

‘Growing up we knew there was something different about Joe, but we took it all in our stride. He couldn’t really talk much but he made himself understood no problem.

‘He was really funny and entertaining, and we were very close. Our parents were Sardinian and Joe loved to dance to Sardinian music. He liked gardening too.

Ria said that when she left her brother in hospital, he held her hands and wouldn't let go. She added that looking back, 'it was as if he knew'

Ria said that when she left her brother in hospital, he held her hands and wouldn't let go. She added that looking back, 'it was as if he knew'

Ria said that when she left her brother in hospital, he held her hands and wouldn’t let go. She added that looking back, ‘it was as if he knew’ 

Joe (centre) was the oldest of four siblings (three pictured). Their mother, pictured right, had died when they were little and they were raised by their father, Pietro (left)

Joe (centre) was the oldest of four siblings (three pictured). Their mother, pictured right, had died when they were little and they were raised by their father, Pietro (left)

Joe (centre) was the oldest of four siblings (three pictured). Their mother, pictured right, had died when they were little and they were raised by their father, Pietro (left)

Ria, 48, an actress from London, said: 'Joe (pictured) was a sweet and funny man but he needed support. It is tragic that the people he relied on to care for him were the ones who let him down'

Ria, 48, an actress from London, said: 'Joe (pictured) was a sweet and funny man but he needed support. It is tragic that the people he relied on to care for him were the ones who let him down'

Ria, 48, an actress from London, said: ‘Joe (pictured) was a sweet and funny man but he needed support. It is tragic that the people he relied on to care for him were the ones who let him down’

Joe with his father Pietro.  Despite his objections when Pietro became ill, and Ria was diagnosed with MS in 2013, Joe moved into supported living

Joe with his father Pietro.  Despite his objections when Pietro became ill, and Ria was diagnosed with MS in 2013, Joe moved into supported living

Joe with his father Pietro.  Despite his objections when Pietro became ill, and Ria was diagnosed with MS in 2013, Joe moved into supported living

‘There was pressure from the doctors for Joe to go into residential care but my dad wouldn’t hear of it. Joe was part of the family and that’s just how it was.

Giuseppe was the eldest of four children. Their mother had died when they were little, and they were raised by their father, Pietro.

Despite his objections, when Pietro became ill and Ria was diagnosed with MS in 2013, Joe moved into supported living.   

‘The move gave Joe independence and it gave my dad some respite so it was better for everyone,’ Ria said. 

‘Although it was a difficult decision, he liked it there and the staff were fantastic.’

After his fall, Guiseppe fractured his pelvis, wrist and neck, but his injuries were initially missed by medics. They were only spotted after his carers brought him back to hospital a day later over concerns he could not walk or swallow properly. 

Speaking of his move into assisted living, Ria said: 'The move gave Joe independence and it gave my dad some respite so it was better for everyone'

Speaking of his move into assisted living, Ria said: 'The move gave Joe independence and it gave my dad some respite so it was better for everyone'

Speaking of his move into assisted living, Ria said: ‘The move gave Joe independence and it gave my dad some respite so it was better for everyone’

After his fall, Guiseppe fractured his pelvis, wrist and neck but his injuries were initially missed by medics and were only spotted after his carers brought him back to hospital a day later over concerns he could not walk or swallow properly

After his fall, Guiseppe fractured his pelvis, wrist and neck but his injuries were initially missed by medics and were only spotted after his carers brought him back to hospital a day later over concerns he could not walk or swallow properly

After his fall, Guiseppe fractured his pelvis, wrist and neck but his injuries were initially missed by medics and were only spotted after his carers brought him back to hospital a day later over concerns he could not walk or swallow properly

His difficulty swallowing continued for several days, leading to staff deciding to make him nil by mouth and put him on a naso-gastric feeding tube on March 9 to prevent him choking. 

But he found the tube uncomfortable and it was removed a day later. 

The inquest heard poor communication between medical staff and delays over deciding how best to feed him left him without nutrition for 10 days, causing him to ‘waste away’ before he died on March 20.  

Relatives told a coroner they had raised concerns with doctors about his lack of food, and described the hospital as having ‘first-rate buildings but third-rate medical care’. 

Ria said: 'I visited Joe in hospital and he wasn't happy at all. He hated being in there. But I just thought it was a fall and that he'd soon be home again'

Ria said: 'I visited Joe in hospital and he wasn't happy at all. He hated being in there. But I just thought it was a fall and that he'd soon be home again'

Ria said: ‘I visited Joe in hospital and he wasn’t happy at all. He hated being in there. But I just thought it was a fall and that he’d soon be home again’

Ria continued: ‘I visited Joe in hospital and he wasn’t happy at all. He hated being in there. But I just thought it was a fall and that he’d soon be home again.

‘I had no idea what lay ahead. But when I left he held my hands and he wouldn’t let go. Looking back, it was as if he knew.

‘I held him in my arms and I said goodbye as he took his last breath. My heart was breaking. He had lost so much weight. He was a shadow of himself.’ 

An inquest into his death earlier this month recorded a narrative conclusion and cited an ‘overall failure of care’ and ‘failure to provide adequate nutrition’.

The inquest also found that these failures in care contributed to his death.

An inquest into Joe's death earlier this month recorded a narrative conclusion and cited an 'overall failure of care' and 'failure to provide adequate nutrition'

An inquest into Joe's death earlier this month recorded a narrative conclusion and cited an 'overall failure of care' and 'failure to provide adequate nutrition'

An inquest into Joe’s death earlier this month recorded a narrative conclusion and cited an ‘overall failure of care’ and ‘failure to provide adequate nutrition’

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has apologised and promised it will not happen again.

His cause of death was given as insufficient nutrition, osteopathic fractures, and pneumonia.

Joe was cremated at his local church, where his family played his favourite song: ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.’   

Acting area coroner for Manchester City Angharad Davies told an inquest jury: ‘Whilst in hospital Joe was looked after by a range of different staff, from nurses to speech specialists to dietitians.

‘A decision was made that he would be “nil by mouth” because of concerns he could breathe food into his lungs. A naso-gastric feeding tube was fitted, but that proved problematic and it was only in place for 24 hours.

‘After that Joe had a long period of time when he had no nutritional support, the only support was during that 24 hours when the tube was in place.’ 

Link hienalouca.com

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