An elderly woman has died after care workers in Reading did not follow emergency procedures to receive the correct medical attention, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The woman, who was being cared for by Reading Borough Council’s care provider, the Radis Group, had health conditions including lung disease.
She lived alone, and received three calls a day from care workers. However, when she fell ill in July 2017, care workers failed to follow the provider’s procedures and alert her GP in a timely manner.
The woman was eventually admitted to hospital but died the next day.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “The woman in this case was clearly unwell when care workers made their visits. We cannot say whether earlier medical intervention might have resulted in a better outcome for her, but the family has been left not knowing whether their mother and grandmother might have survived had care workers acted differently.
“Councils can outsource care but they cannot outsource responsibility for that care, which is why we are finding the council at fault for the actions of the care provider.
“I’m pleased the council has accepted its responsibilities, and welcome its readiness to make the procedural changes we have recommended to try to avoid the issue reoccurring.”
The woman’s son complained to the Ombudsman when he said he was unhappy with the council’s investigation into his complaint.
The council has agreed to apologise to the man and discuss with him whether he wishes the council to provide a lasting tribute in memory of his mother.
The council will also pay him £100 to acknowledge the time and trouble he has had in bringing his complaint.
A spokesman for Reading Borough Council added: “The council accepts the ombudsman’s report and recommendations in full.
“The complaint was that the care provider had failed to call emergency services for the mother, who was ill. The ombudsman found that the care provider had not followed its emergency procedures, and did not recognise this in its investigation of the complaint.
“The council, as the commissioner of the care, also failed to pick this up.
“We have written to the family and sincerely apologised. As a council, we completely acknowledge we need to strengthen our complaints procedure in relation to care services we commission.
“We have put in place an action plan to review the care provided by our care provider, and taken measures to improve our complaints procedure in relation to complaints involving our care providers.”