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Watchdog slams Royal Borough care for woman left in soiled clothes

Oliver Sirrell - Local Democracy Reporter

A woman was left in soiled clothes, suffering skin and eye infections and living on a diet of milk and cake despite being cared for by the Royal Borough.

The council has been forced to pay out £1,000 to her family as her ‘obvious deterioration’ caused them ‘anxiety and uncertainty’.

This comes after the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) slammed carers for ‘neglecting’ the woman after they claimed ‘all was well’ despite her having suffered a serious fall in December 2017.

Royal Borough bosses assessed the woman, who had not been taking her medication, in May 2017.

They decided the best course of action would be for a social worker to stage a 45-minute call with her each day.

Two weeks after the calls started, a social worker visited her and noted the woman was wearing “soiled clothes” and living on a diet of cake and milk.

A November 2017 visit revealed the woman had a ‘severe eye infection’ and that her ‘heavily soiled clothes’ were ‘falling off’ as her washing machine was broken and she had no clean clothes to wear.

Carers had left the woman’s medication outside of the safe box and within her reach in December 2017, having made the same mistake previously.

The woman was found on the floor when a health visitor called at her house days later, where she had been for ‘five or six hours’ following a fall.

This came despite carers having been in to see the woman and noting ‘all was well’, but paramedics called by the health visitor said there was ‘no evidence the carers had been upstairs for some time’ as there was dried faeces on the carpet.

A safeguarding meeting took place in January 2018 where a carer explained she assumed the woman’s neighbours would take care of her following her fall had not noticed any faeces and was not allowed upstairs by the woman.

A social worker said carers had failed to properly react to the woman’s fall and this meant a third ‘safeguarding alert’ after her medication had been left out twice before.

The woman’s son-in-law wrote to care agency bosses claiming she was in a ‘worse state physically than when the care agency was commissioned to look after her’.

She died in April 2018 and the son-in-law complained to the LGO, which agreed she was ‘allowed to deteriorate’, causing her ‘significant injustice’.

‘Most concerning’, according to the watchdog, was ‘the assumption on the part of the carers that someone else would take action after Mrs X fell, and their note in the daily log that all was well when they left [the woman] in the knowledge that she had fallen, was poorly dressed and soiled.”

The Royal Borough has been forced to pay £1,000 to the woman’s family in recognition of the distress caused to them by its ‘failure to provide a good standard of care’.

A Royal Borough spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry for the failures in care which affected this resident and their family.

“Since this complaint, we have put in place a number of measures to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.”

The LGO does not reveal the names of those involved in its investigations or where they live in the Royal Borough. The report was published earlier this month.

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