St John of God Community issue apology following death of boy, aged 6, in respite care

A family photo of Tristan Neiland, is held by his mother, Angela, outside court. Picture: Courtpix

Update: The Saint John of God Community Services have apologised this afternoon to the family of Tristan Neiland following the settlement of an action resulting from his death in respite care.

In a statement released this afternoon Saint John of God Community Services "apologised to Tristan’s parents, sisters and brother for the shortcomings in the care provided to Tristan at the time of his death.

The statement went on: "The Service acknowledges that this is a cause of great anguish and stress for his family. Tristan is remembered with great fondness by all who knew him and supported him in our service. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tristan’s family through these very difficult times."

Earlier: A mother broke down in the High Court today as she told how she left her six-year-old boy in to respite care on a Friday afternoon but he returned home in a white coffin, reports Ann O’Loughlin.“Tristan’s death broke our hearts and today we stand here and speak so as families who seek respite care are aware and vigilant of the care and lack of care provided by institutions,” Angela Neiland said as she told a judge of the death of her son just a month before his seventh birthday.Mrs Neiland was making a statement to the court as she and her husband Andrew settled their action over their son’s death in respite care.

Angela Neiland, mother of Tristan, of Cabinteely, Co. Dublin, speaking to the media outside the High Court with her family (L-R) Felin, Aryana, Zeev and husband, Andrew. Picture: Courtpix
Angela Neiland, mother of Tristan, of Cabinteely, Co. Dublin, speaking to the media outside the High Court with her family (L-R) Felin, Aryana, Zeev and husband, Andrew. Picture: Courtpix

"Tristan entered the services as a happy six-year-old boy on a Friday afternoon and returned to our home in a white coffin on the Monday afternoon," she said, breaking down in tears.

Tristan Neiland, who had a number of medical conditions including global developmental delay and epilepsy was found unconscious in his bed on the second night of his respite stay at the Carmona Respite Services Centre, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

At the High Court today, St John Of God Community Services Ltd, who run the respite centre apologised to Tristan’s parents for “the shortcomings in the care of Tristan at the time of his death”

The apology was contained in a letter sent to the parents, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told.

In the letter it said: “The Service acknowledges that this is a cause of great stress and anguish for Tristan’s family. We also acknowledge that Tristan’s mother did nothing to cause of contribute to his death.”

Counsel for Tristan’s parents Bruce Antoniotti SC, told the High Court the tragic loss of Tristan was a particularly traumatic event for Tristan’s family, his parents, two sisters and a brother.

Before his death, Counsel said Tristan was a happy healthy boy and was doing particularly well.

Counsel said a monitor which should have been attached to the boy’s toe was not attached and the boy over one and half hours was not checked and died of a seizure.

Mrs Angela Neiland broke down in tears as she told of her “precious boy”

“Tristan died unnoticed, alone and we only have an estimation as to his time of death. He died with equipment and medication that was part of his medical protocol only feet away.

She said the family hoped Tristan’s death has made the services a safer place.

“We live our lives without our Tristan but we hope and pray that no other family will suffer like we have. Tristan will live through us his family as we love and miss him all the days of your lives.”

Andrew and Angela Neiland, Cabinteely Park, Cabinteely, Dublin had sued Saint John of God Community Services Ltd, which offers respite care at the Carmona Respite Services Centre, Upper Glenageary Road, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin and three staff at the centre over the death of their son in 2013.

Tristan who was born in February 2006 had a number of medical conditions including epilepsy associated with cyanosis and , autism and global developmental delay.

Since 2006, he had been in the care of Saint John of God Community Services and attended Carmona Special National School since 2011.

It was claimed Tristan’s medical conditions were known.

In October 2012, Tristan started overnight stays at Carmona Respite Centre and it is claimed a protocol of care contained an instruction that Tristan’s oxygen saturations monitor was to be used and that the probe was required to be attached to the boy’s toe once asleep.

It was further claimed that the instruction was given that Tristan needed continual monitoring because he tended to move a lot in his sleep.

In the event of a seizure, it was claimed the instruction was given that the boy needed oxygen during a seizure as well as certain medication and an ambulance had to be called between five and seven minutes.

It was alleged that it was known the boy’s seizures were associated with significant cyanosis requiring oxygen and the administration of medication.

The claims were denied.

On January 4, 2013, Tristan arrived at the Carmona Respite Centre for a stay to last until lunch time on January 6.

It is claimed that according to nursing and care records, Tristan was asleep in his chair at 8pm and put to bed a half an hour later and he was noted to have been ‘sound asleep”

The boy was found at 10.56pm unconscious, not breathing and cyanotic.

Attempts were made to resuscitate Tristan and he was transferred to hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival at 11.50pm on January 5.

It has been claimed that the time Tristan was found unconscious was allegedly misrepresented as 10.30pm hours when in fact it occurred at 10.56pm.

Tristan’s mother Angela received a phone call at 11pm from a nurse informing her of the situation and the parents rushed to meet the ambulance at the hospital.

Ruling the settlement the terms of which are confidential, Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with the Neiland family on their sad and unnecessary loss.

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