A vulnerable woman in Blackpool was left with serious burns on her leg after carers left her too close to a hot radiator, the local government Ombudsman has found.
The carers, who had been commissioned by Blackpool Borough Council from ICare, were looking after the woman after she suffered a stroke which left her with limited feeling in her right side and communication difficulties.
According to an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, the carers left the woman on a commode in her bathroom with her leg leaning on a radiator.
The woman received burns that were ‘between seven and 12.5 centimetres in length and one to two centimetres in width’ and was screaming in pain, according to the Ombudsman’s findings.
It took the carers nearly three hours to identify she needed urgent medical attention and her wounds became infected. She has been unable to return home and now lives in a care home.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the care agency failed to provide safe care. The agency also failed to identify obvious environmental risks in her home and to design a plan to minimise those risks.
The carers were also found to be at fault for their failure to seek urgent medical attention and for an inaccurate account of what happened at a later safeguarding investigation.
‘This distressing case serves to reinforce the need for carers to undertake thorough assessments of the care environment and the risks that they may pose, and the actions they need to take to mitigate those risks,’ said the Ombudsman Michael King.
‘I hope the measures the council will now be putting in place will enable it to keep closer oversight of the agencies it contracts to carry out care on its behalf and ensure other vulnerable clients are not put at risk.’
The council has agreed to apologise to the woman and her daughter, and pay them £5,000 and £500 respectively, according to the Ombudsman.
Cllr Amy Cross, cabinet member for adult service and health, said: 'Anyone receiving care in their home should have total confidence that they are going to be looked after in a safe and caring way.
'There are more than a thousand Blackpool residents receiving care in their home every week and thankfully incidents like this rarely happen.
'I was horrified when I saw the picture of the injury that this lady suffered.
'On behalf of the council I unreservedly apologise for the distress that she and her family have experienced. It is not acceptable and it should not have happened.
'We have worked very closely with the company delivering this care and all our other providers to ensure that risks such as this are better managed in the future.'