Man left in squalor and pain failed by mental health team

A community mental health service has been castigated for leaving a vulnerable patient to live in squalor and pain because it failed to monitor him or respond to signs he was at risk.

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A community mental health service has been castigated for leaving a vulnerable patient to live in squalor and pain because it failed to monitor him or respond to signs he was at risk.

The client, known as Mr B, was left in poor and deteriorating health in a squalid flat because he was unable to care for himself and was failed by his community mental health team (CMHT), found a joint report today by the local government and health service ombudsmen.

He was later diagnosed with myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer, and died in June 2010 in a nursing home.

The ombudsmen said the CMHT, run jointly by St Helens Council and the Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust, failed to review Mr B’s care, assess in-depth his mental state, capacity or risk, or act on concerns raised about his welfare.

The report also identified poor communications and gaps in his records.

“The trust and council failed to deliver the standard of care Mr B was entitled to and he was left to live in unacceptable conditions,” the report said. “Although we cannot conclude definitively that there would have been a different outcome for Mr B, in terms of the diagnosis and treatment of his myeloma, we did find that the failure to implement his care plans and to manage risk appropriately played some part in his rapid deteiroration.”

Mr B had received support from a care co-ordinator and a community psychiatric nurse for 10 years until 2006, the report found.

In February 2008, his cousin, Ms A, found him unwell. On visiting his flat, she found food that was more than a year out of date, faeces and urine stains on the carpets and furniture and cockroaches. In April 2008, Mr B was admitted to hospital with severe malnutrition, dehydration and impaired kidney function. Ms A complained to the ombudsmen after raising concerns with the trust and council.

The trust and the council have agreed to the ombudsmen’s recommendations to apologise to Ms A and pay her £2,000 in compensation and £1,500 to cover her legal costs. They have also agreed to produce an action plan to prevent other vulnerable people being failed in this way.

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