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Complaint to get council care home bill paid fails

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West Berkshire Council has been told to apologise on behalf of one of its care homes for poor record keeping.

But the complaint about poor food, weight loss, isolation, infrequent pad changes, oxygen, medicine administration, poor cleaning and a delay in answering the buzzer was not upheld.

The complaint was brought by a Mrs X, who’s husband Mr Y had severe heart failure and kidney failure.

West Berkshire Council's Market Street offices in Newbury (51533739)
West Berkshire Council's Market Street offices in Newbury (51533739)

Mrs X said the Lavender Lodge Care Home caused the family and Mr Y avoidable distress and wanted a waiver of unpaid care fees owed by Mr Y’s estate.

He lived in the care home until August 2019, when he returned to his home with a family-arranged care package.

The council commissioned Mr Y’s placement temporarily for 12 weeks from March to July.

After this, he was a self-funder (because of owning a property) and paid for his care privately.

The council’s records indicate the care home evicted Mr Y for non-payment of fees after the council’s period of funding ended.

The council’s social care assessment of January 2019 said Mr Y would leave used toilet paper in the bathroom instead of flushing it away and he had a history of self-neglect and poor personal hygiene.

The assessment noted he would hide medication in his pocket.

The outcome of the assessment was that Mr Y was eligible for social care support and the decision was to commission a place in a care home for him. Mr Y moved into the care home in March.

The council’s records include a discussion at the end of May with a family member about Mr Y paying about £80 a week for fizzy drinks and a lot of chocolate.

The family member said they kept finding Mr Y’s tablets hidden about his bedroom because staff did not stay to check he took them.

But the care home had lost most of the records.

“I note that there were known issues around Mr Y hiding tablets, which I would have expected to be addressed in the care home’s care plans,” said the Ombudsman.

“As these records are not available, there is not enough information for me to say there was any fault in care planning.”

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