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Ombudsman criticises council after vulnerable man left at risk of poor care for 18 months

A vulnerable man was left at risk from poor care for more than 18 months, despite Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council being alerted to problems, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man had significant difficulty with mobility and completing daily living tasks and received daily visits from agency care workers arranged by the council.

His son had concerns about the quality of this care and whether visits were cut short.

Ombudsman Michael King found Wirral at fault for closing an incomplete safeguarding investigation and for failing to follow procedures.

The man was placed at a "significant and avoidable risk of harm over at least 18 months", the Ombudsman said, because calls were cut short, care workers were not trained properly and they did not give medication putting him at increased risk of seizures.

Mr King said: "When relatives raise concerns about vulnerable people's care, it is of paramount importance that councils act promptly to ensure people are safe. Regrettably, in this case this did not happen, and the father was left at risk for far too long.”

The man’s son first raised concerns about his father’s care, and the amounts he was being charged, in August 2016.

Issues included care workers having not used a hoist and sling for transfers, the father not being strapped into his wheelchair properly and workers not dealing with soiled bedding and clothes hygienically.

Mr King said it then took Wirral two months to identify there might be a safeguarding risk.

The ombudsman said the council should:

  • apologise to the son detailing the action it intends to take to avoid similar problems in future;
  • refer the case to the local safeguarding board for review;
  • waive half of the fees outstanding;
  • pay the son £200 to remedy the frustration and stress the situation caused him;
  • ensure all relevant staff receive safeguarding training.

A Wirral spokesperson said: “Wirral Council offers its fullest apologies to this family. The council has accepted the findings of the report and is implementing all the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

“The authority has since significantly improved the way domiciliary care is managed and kept under review to accommodate changes in circumstances and ensure care packages meet people's needs as they change over time, and the level of care commissioned is appropriate to the needs of each individual who receives this care.”

The council also accepted the recommendation to waive half the care fees owed and make the £200 payment.

It will also work with care providers to ensure staff are fully trained in safeguarding and administering medication.

Mark Smulian

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