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Vulnerable man put at risk for more than 18 months because of Council’s safeguarding failings

09 May 2019

A vulnerable man remained 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, whose health conditions and impairments meant he had significant difficulty with mobility and completing daily living tasks, received daily visits from agency care workers arranged by the council.

However, his son, who lived 200 miles away was concerned about the quality of care his father received, and the charges relating to that care.

The son also had concerns about carer workers cutting their visits short, despite not meeting his father’s needs properly.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for closing a safeguarding investigation without completing it, and for failing to comply with its own procedures.

It also found the father was placed at a “significant and avoidable risk of harm over at least 18 months” because:

  • calls were cut short despite his needs not being met safely;
  • care workers were not trained properly; and
  • signed for medication they did not give, putting him at increased risk of seizures.

The Ombudsman has also found the council at fault for how it handled the son’s complaint.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, 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.

Unfortunately, we cannot now put this right for the father because he has passed away. But the measures I have recommended to the council should improve procedures to prevent instances such as this from happening to others.”

The Ombudsman found that the council should:

  • apologise to the son detailing the faults identified and the action it now intends to take to avoid similar problems in future. It should also refer the case to the local safeguarding board for review.
  • waive half of the father’s care fees and pay the son £200 to remedy the frustration and stress the situation caused him; and
  • ensure all relevant staff receive safeguarding training to ensure issues are dealt with promptly and appropriately and review the complaint handling in this case to develop an action pla

For more information see Vulnerable man put at risk because of safeguarding failings by Wirral council available @ www.lgo.org.uk

For information about complaining about local authority decisions and other independent living issues see our Social Care and Personal Budget factsheets.