Council to pay out £4,000 after woman left ‘severely malnourished’ in care home

Ombudsman tells councils they ‘cannot contract out responsibility’ for care commissioned from third party providers after investigation.

A council has apologised and agreed to pay out £4,000 over failings that left a woman with dementia “severely malnourished” while living in a care home.

Wokingham council admitted it missed problems with the woman’s care after a Local Government Ombudsman investigation found she had lost a third of her body weight during her time at the home between 2010 and 2013.

The watchdog said the case should serve as a warning to local authorities that they cannot “contract out the accountability” for care they have commissioned from third party providers.

The ombudsman launched its investigation after the woman’s daughter complained about the care her mother had received at the home. As well as raising concerns about malnourishment, she said her mum was under stimulated during her time at the home and had broken her hip during a fall after she was left to walk unaided.

The woman’s care plan had stated she required supervision with walking, medication, eating and drinking, and also needed encouragement to interact as she was in a low mood.

Wokingham council admitted it had not reviewed the woman’s care properly during her time at the home due to an administrative error.

The local authority said it accepted the ombudsman’s report and was acting on its recommendations, which included a call to pay £3,500 to the woman and £500 to her daughter to remedy the situation.

Dr Jane Martin, the Local Government Ombudsman, said: “Sadly, this is an example where a vulnerable woman and her family have suffered because their council has neglected its duty to them.

“In this case the woman was bored, lost a considerable amount of weight and her wellbeing was not promoted. Fortunately, since moving to a different care home she has regained weight and is now within a healthy range.”

Councillor Julian McGhee-Sumner, Wokingham’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said the authority was “profoundly sorry” for the poor care provided to the woman and the distress caused to her and her family.

“The care she received was below the standard we expect from our care providers and we apologise that we did not identify these problems.

“The period of concern was 2010 to 2013 and we have fully accepted the Local Government Ombudsman’s report and have already put changes in place to meet its recommendations.

“We are confident that through the implementation of our duties under the Care Act 2014, full review and development of our safeguarding and quality assurance within commissioned services, and our review of our internal processes that we have fully addressed the concerns of the Ombudsman.”

Story courtesy of Community Care