Nursing home fails to provide dignified care to Sandwell woman - Ombudsman
A Sandwell woman suffered significant hair, diet and skin problems because the nursing home her local council placed her in failed to meet her cultural needs.
The woman’s family complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman that despite her care plan stating she needed specialist hair and skin care, and also Caribbean meals prepared for her, the care home did not do so.
As a result of this and other caring concerns, the family said she was left with hair loss, and she also lost weight.
A safeguarding enquiry carried out by the council partially upheld their concerns; particularly that the food provided by the home did not meet the standards recommended by the woman’s speech and language therapist.
The care home agreed further steps to meet the woman’s needs, including that her hair be combed out, oiled and plaited, that it would use hair products as directed by her daughters and it would moisturise her skin after personal care.
Despite this the family reported further concerns to the council, including that the woman’s hair was damaged because of neglect and that the woman’s food contained lumps, despite her being assessed as needing a pureed diet. The home’s own care notes indicated that hair oil and moisturiser were only applied on 29 days during the woman’s 20 month stay – just four per cent of the time she was there.
The Ombudsman’s report found the care plan developed for the woman by the council failed to take account of her individual rights in line with the requirements of the Equalities Act. It also found the council did not do enough to establish the woman’s cultural needs when formalising her care plan. Had it done so, it is likely the home would not have accepted her placement and she would have been offered a different provider.
The Ombudsman concluded the woman did not always get the care she needed while staying at the home.
Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“Families often face an incredibly tough decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, so it’s vital that relatives know they will receive good quality care that meets their needs, and specific cultural requirements are critical to that.
“Councils must have care services available that reflect the people they serve. So I am concerned that the council says it has no care providers that can meet the cultural needs of people like the woman in this case. This is worrying given the particularly diverse range of backgrounds of people living in Sandwell.
“I welcome the council’s agreement to develop a strategy to improve the services it provides to all communities living in Sandwell.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the family and reimburse 20 per cent of the contributed care fees they paid, along with £1,000 to the woman to acknowledge the distress caused and a further £500 to the family.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council will write to the care provider to ensure it is aware of Care Quality Commission guidance on how to meet the fundamental standards of care. It will also remind its staff of the guidance.
In addition, the council has agreed to develop a strategy to detail how it intends to meet the cultural needs of people living in its area.
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