THE family of a Welling woman who was discovered suffocated by pillows covering her head and face in respite care have said they “cannot believe how this has happened”.

They are considering legal action after Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis sufferer Irene Schoepff, 82, from Welling, was found early on March 5 2012 with one pillow on her face and another on top of her head.

Mystery continues to surround her death which occurred at the Bupa-owned Sidcup Nursing and Residential Centre in Hatherley Road and coroner Dr Palmer recorded an open verdict at the inquest in South London Coroners’ Court on Thursday (JAN 28).

Mrs Schoepff’s family told News Shopper: “We cannot believe how this incident happened.

“We had cared for Irene for 13 years with support from carers.

“At home Irene always slept on her back and would remain in this position until the morning.

“She could not move herself due to osteoarthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

“We were told that she was sleeping normally when checked approximately one hour prior to being found. It has now come to light that there was no individualised night care plan or documents to show how she should be positioned - essential for appropriate care.

“No one has taken responsibility for the position she ended up in yet every witness agreed that she simply could not have done it herself. 

“It does not make sense.  She was a wonderful wife and mother and we entrusted Bupa with her care - she is so missed.” 

They are now pursuing legal action.

The family’s solicitor, Elizabeth O’Mahony, of Powell & Company, told News Shopper: ““From the evidence we heard at the inquest, I will be advising the family to pursue this matter further through a legal route.”

After the inquest, a spokesman for the Sidcup Nursing and Residential Centre told News Shopper: "We were all very upset by Mrs Schoepff’s death in 2012.

"As the Coroner noted, it was a tragic accident and she had been checked just an hour before.

“We would like to again send our condolences to her family.”