A retiree who ended up with kidney injury after negligence claims at a North Hill care home has received an apology and a promise of compensation.
The local government and social services ombudsperson (LGSCO) upheld a complaint lodged by the retiree’s daughter and found the council and the care provider to be at fault.
The complainant, identified as Ms X, said her mother Ms M was “neglected” at Springfield House Care Home.
She said her mother was admitted to hospital following a fall – and the consultant said it was caused by dehydration.
Ms X said her mother remained undernourished, dehydrated, resulting in kidney damage and depressed.
The LGCSO report says Ms M has dementia and that in May 2020 she became a resident of Springfield House, between Liskeard and Launceston. At the end of June, Ms M saw her GP because of her “depressed mood and decreased appetite”. The GP advised the household to encourage him to eat and drink.
A week later, in early July, Ms. M fell without witnesses and was taken to hospital where she was found to be dehydrated and suffering from an acute kidney infection.
The incident was reported to council as a backup issue and as part of the backup investigation, a social worker interviewed Ms. M and said it was clear she lacked the capacity.
In August, Ms. X complained to the care provider and they said that in June Ms. M’s mood was bad and that she was not interested in food or drink. The home said staff actively encouraged Ms M to eat and drink, but refused sufficient amounts.
The report states: “The health care provider said Ms. M had the ability to decide whether she wanted to eat and drink. He said it was not their policy to force a resident to eat or drink. “
Ms X lodged another complaint and asked if the care provider had discussed the problem with her mother’s GP or if there had been follow-up from the GP as her condition continued to deteriorate. The daughter disagreed that her mother had the ability to decide what to eat or drink. A copy of the complaint has been sent to council.
The LGSCO found that although the GP told the home to encourage Ms M to eat and drink, there were only two references to this in their records. They found the house to be at fault.
They also found that there was no evidence that the care provider had followed the GP between his visit in June and his fall in July – and therefore again found fault.
The ombudsman also discovered that there were conflicting tapes of what Ms M ate and drank and said, “These conflicting tapes indicate that some staff were not concerned with Ms M’s minimum nutrition and hydration. Mr. “
They said that “these faults caused an injustice to Ms. M in that she was not adequately fed and hydrated. This exposed Ms. M to preventable harm ”.
The LGSCO also said the caregiver failed to adequately respond to its own inquiries and delayed the investigation.
The ombudsman said the council’s backup investigation was satisfactory, but said when the council discovered concerns, there was no clear follow-up action.
The ombudsperson also criticized the care provider’s response to Ms X’s complaints and said she had suffered injustice as a result.
He said that although he found fault with the actions of the caregiver, he made recommendations to the board who accepted them all.
Springfield House is a self-contained care home and currently cares for 20 residents. Her most recent inspection by the Quality of Care Commission was in October 2019, when she received a good rating.
Registered Director Mohammad Jahmeerbacus said: “This was an isolated incident. We are working with the authority to put in place a policy and a procedure to make sure this doesn’t happen again – we don’t want something like this to happen again. “
Cornwall Council apologized to Ms X and agreed to pay Ms M £ 400 to ‘reflect the caregiver exposing her to avoidable harm’.
In addition, the board agreed to pay Ms X £ 700, consisting of £ 400 for ‘unnecessary distress and uncertainty’ and £ 300 for ‘reflecting Ms X’s time and trouble, as well as the inconvenience and frustration caused by the poor handling of complaints by the health care provider. ”.
The board also agreed to work with the care provider to improve their complaints process; policy on how to treat residents who refuse to drink / feed; review practices to ensure that general practitioners are regularly involved if residents refuse to eat or drink; and remind the caregiver to communicate any concerns to family members and to keep appropriate records.