Northamptonshire care home left man with soiled sheets and sent his bills to the wrong address

A care home in Northamptonshire has been slammed in a damning ombudsman report after failings in the way it cared for a vulnerable man.
A care home in Northamptonshire has been slammed in a damning ombudsman report after failings in the way it cared for a vulnerable man.

A Northamptonshire County Council-funded care home that left a vulnerable man with soiled sheets and failed to give him medication has been slammed in a watchdog report.

A Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found serious failings at the home, which is in the wider Northampton area, but whose location cannot be revealed to protect the man's identity.

The failings meant the man was admitted to hospital with cellulitis - a painful skin infection - six months after his family first raised their concerns.

They included staff not ensuring the man took his medication at the correct time, leaving him with soiled sheets or no sheets at all, not removing snacks from his room for days, and leaving him without a TV remote control for four days.

Additionally the investigation found the council did not do enough to ensure his care bills were going to the correct address, which meant by the time he received them, a large invoice had built up.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said: “Councils cannot contract out responsibility for care when they contract out the provision: poor quality care by a council-funded provider is poor quality care by the council itself.

“Although the questionable care this man received from his care home was not provided by the council, Northamptonshire County Council is directly responsible for ensuring the quality of care delivered by providers acting on its behalf.

“I’m pleased that by the end of the investigation, the council had agreed to improve its policies and procedures and provide the remedy I have recommended.”

Eighteen months after the man first moved to the care home, his daughter told the home she had concerns about his level of care.

At the same time, the daughter asked the council to review her father’s care needs. His social worker identified a number of concerns about the quality and standard of care at the home and raised a safeguarding alert.

The council started a safeguarding investigation and notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A protection plan was drawn up for the man.

However, the ombudsman says the council failed to check the home then put the care plan in place - or that it was communicating the plan effectively with staff.

The council took too long to ensure the man was moved to a different room, even after his room was identified as "having a negative impact on him".

It also did not act when an email from the care home’s director cast doubt about the existence of the plan.

The LGSCO's role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve adult social care, services.

In this case, the council has agreed to pay the daughter £250 for the time and trouble in bringing the complaint and the father £350 for the distress.

The council has also agreed to review its invoice collection procedures to ensure action is taken at an earlier stage to prevent large arrears accumulating.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We have accepted the findings of the ombudsman’s report and we apologise to the family for any failings on our part.

“We have already reviewed and improved our invoicing system and we continue to promote the use of direct debit for all customers which negates the need for them to notify us of a change of postal address.

“We are also continuing to work with providers to ensure our safeguarding and protection plans are effectively implemented when concerns are raised, and to develop the skills and knowledge of our staff with ongoing training and supervision to ensure that customers and carers are fully supported and safeguarded.”