The Local Government Ombudsman has ruled Oxfordshire County Council failed to properly follow up a complaint about the neglect in its first joint investigation of a care home and a local authority.
Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin said both the county council and the care home ‘failed to give the family proper answers’ after it investigated a complaint from a man who said his elderly wife was left severely dehydrated after a week-long stay at the Huntercombe Hall Care Home.
The woman needed three weeks in hospital treatment after her stay, but died a week after being discharged.
The Ombudsman found council investigation appeared to accept the care home’s of side events, despite recording a finding of ‘neglect partially substantiated’.
The investigation also found Oxfordshire County Council did not adhere to Department of Health guidance on safeguarding adults.
‘Neither the care provider nor council’s investigations were up to the standard I expect, and failed to give the family proper answers as to what went wrong,’ said Dr Martin.
‘Organisations can only learn from events like these if they conduct thorough and searching investigations.
‘I welcome the significant steps Oxfordshire CC has already taken to improve its policies, procedures and staff training in this area and am pleased it has agreed to my further recommendations. I now call on the care provider to reflect upon my report and implement the remedies I have recommended.’
Oxfordshire County Council has already apologised to the man. In addition, it has been asked to pay him £250 for the time and trouble he has been through in pursuing the complaint, and £500 for the distress caused. ‘The way we handled this case was very disappointing,’ said Oxfordshire County Council’s director of adult social services, John Jackson.
‘We have not hesitated to apologise to Mr. X. As the Ombudsman has acknowledged, we have implemented robust and extensive improvements to procedures, even though at the time this was an isolated case of poor practice and in no way systemic, or representative of the general standards to which we operated in 2014 or now,’ added Mr Jackson.