Ombudsman finds county council at fault over complaint concerning elderly man injured by carer

An Essex woman whose elderly father was injured by a care worker while receiving end of life care has been paid compensation by the county council.

The woman, referred to as Miss X in a report, complained to the local government watchdog that a care worker from a home care agency handled her late father, named Mr Y, with “unnecessary roughness causing an injury”.

According to a report, Miss X also complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about the way Essex County Council handled her safeguarding concerns in 2019.

Essex County Council says it accepts the ombudsman’s decision, which found it at fault for “significant delay” throughout the safeguarding process, and has apologised Miss X and paid her £350.

According to the report, a care worker injured Mr Y by using his bed sheets to turn him, rather than sliding the sheets.

This caused his arm to become trapped and swell to twice its normal size. Mr Y reportedly cried out in pain and was in tears.

The ombudsman’s report also revealed one of the care workers dropped Mr Y’s catheter bag, causing him pain, then picked it up and completed his mouth care wearing the same gloves.

Mr Y died two days after the incidents.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said in a statement: “We have acknowledged and accepted the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and the recommendations contained in its report.

“We remain dedicated to ensuring all our residents receive the highest quality of care and are committed to learning to improve.”

What the report said:

Mr Y was receiving end of life care at home from specialist nursing services. The health service had arranged a care agency to provide support three times a day between visits from these specialist services.

According to the report, the county council initially opened a concern after Miss X complained, but later closed it without proceeding to an enquiry and without informing Miss X.

The care agency also conducted its own report, which resulted in the care worker in question resigning.

However, the care agency gave little response when contacted by the council.

On one occasion, an officer called the agency but the manager was unavailable. The officer asked to be called back, but there is no evidence that they were, or that the agency was chased up.

The council officer assigned to the case did not ensure they had spoken to Miss X as soon as possible after the concern was raised in May 2019, according to the ombudsman.

They also did not explain to Miss X the council had closed the concern in June and did not note a call from Miss X in July where she said she was not satisfied with the investigation.

The county council then did not answer this complaint until September.

The ombudsman does note the safeguarding officer visited Miss X in December to inform her of the findings of a safeguarding enquiry, but did not send her a written copy of the report.

In addition to apologising and paying compensation, the LGSCO has recommended the council should remind officers all safeguarding concerns should be dealt with in a suitable timescale and ensure all safeguard enquiries are quality assured by team managers before they are closed.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter