May 12, 2022 6.00 pm This story is over 17 months old

Council apologises and pays out £350 after care home failed to treat patient with dignity and respect

Lack of records caused uncertainty, Ombudsman said

Lincolnshire County Council has apologised and paid out £350 after a man’s family was left distressed by the care he received at a care home it funded.

The Local Government Ombudsman has also asked the authority to ensure the care provider addressed the faults it identified at White Gables Care Home in Skellingthorpe, Lincoln and to ensure measures were in place to remind and train staff about the correct processes to follow.

A report by the LGO said the complainant, referred to as Mrs C, became distressed after her now-late husband (Mr C) was admitted to the home for two weeks to give her a break from his care and assess what support he needed.

It said that when he returned home, Mrs C found “restraint marks” on his body which were witnessed by neighbours, he had also developed bruising on his shins while at the care home.

Mrs C complained that staff had inappropriately restrained Mr C, showered him against his wishes, left the television on too loud, escorted him from the care home inappropriately, and failed to give him his medication the same morning, failed to support him with dignity and respect and failed to respond to her complaint properly.

Mrs C believed the incidents had contributed to a decline in his health.

The Ombudsman criticised a lack of reporting or explanation around the bruising, noting that although records showed Mr C could display aggressive behaviour it was “difficult to say now how the bruising was caused”.

“There is no record of an accident or incident on the day in question. The Care Provider failed to complete an accident/incident form.

“Had the care provider completed an incident form there would have been an investigation about the bruising which may have highlighted how the bruising was caused.

“As a result of the care provider’s failure Mrs C has uncertainty and frustration that the issue was not properly investigated at the time.”

The Ombudsman noted did not find fault or investigate further staff showering Mr C, noting that records said a shower was “necessary as Mr C was covered in faeces and it was in his best interests to have a shower”.

“I understand Mrs C was upset carers showered Mr C against his wishes. However it appears for the health and safety of Mr C, and potentially other residents and staff members; there was no other action care staff could have taken which was less restrictive.”

White Gables owners HC One had apologised for leaving the television on too loud, despite a care plan saying Mr C like quiet places.

The LGO also found fault in how Mr C was escorted from the care home.

Accepting he “could be challenging” the Ombudsman said there was “no record” that care staff used diversion tactics or other techniques to encourage him to eat his breakfast, take his medication or leave the care home.

“I cannot say now whether Mr C’s behaviour would have been different had the care home acted without fault.

“However Mrs C has the uncertainty the distressing scenes could have been avoided.”

He said there had also been no evidence the care provider had considered Mr C’s best interests when it was making decisions about his personal care or what/when he should have “quiet” time.

However, he did not find fault in how the council or care home had responded to Mrs C’s initial complaints.

The care provider accepted and apologised for not following Mr C’s care plan about noise, and the council agreed to apologise to Mrs C for the failures the investigation had found.

Roz Cordy, interim assistant director for adult frailty and long-term conditions, said: “The council and local care homes work hard to ensure appropriate care is provided to those that need it.

“We have worked with the home to address the points raised during the investigation, to ensure residents’ care is better documented in future.

“We would like to apologise for any distress caused.”