William Eichler 05 January 2017

Council criticised after woman in care home left ‘malnourished’

Wokingham council has been told to pay out thousands in compensation after a woman was left ‘severely malnourished’ during a stay in a care home.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has criticised Wokingham Borough Council after a dementia patient lost a third of her body weight while living in the care home it contracted to look after her.

The woman weighed 61kg when she entered the council-funded care home in 2010. By the time she left three years later her weight had dropped to 41kg.

The woman’s family complained to the council about the quality of the care she had received. They also said she was understimulated and not supported when walking which led to her falling and breaking her hip.

The council responded accepting they had not supported the placement for the whole time the woman was in the home. It also said an administrative error meant her care was not reviewed properly.

They apologised and offered the family £500 in compensation.

The family was not satisfied and complained to the Ombudsman who criticised the council for the lack of activities organised at the home and for the quality of the care the woman received.

‘This case highlights the need to remind councils that when contracting out services to third parties, they cannot contract out the accountability for those services,’ said Dr Jane Martin, the LGO.

‘Sadly, this is an example where a vulnerable woman and her family have suffered because their council has neglected its duty to them.’

Dr Martin asked Wokingham to pay the woman £3,500 and her daughter £500.

The woman has since moved to a different care home and has regained the lost weight.

Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing Cllr Julian McGhee-Sumner said: ‘We are profoundly sorry for the poor care provided in this case, and for the distress this caused our care client and her family.

‘The care she received was below the standard we expect from our care providers and we apologise that we did not identify these problems.

‘The period of concern was 2010 to 2013 and we have fully accepted the Local Government Ombudsman’s report and have already put changes in place to meet its recommendations.’

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