Social workers have been criticised for allowing an elderly woman with dementia to be left in filthy conditions.
The Local Government Ombudsman found that social workers at Worcestershire Council had failed to conduct a proper risk assessment of a Mrs Nash for nearly a year.
The council had assumed responsibility for planning Mrs Nash’s care in August 2008, but the case worker failed to assess the risks her dementia posed to her well-being.
Without adequate homecare, the woman’s home became dirty, food went stale and clothes lay unwashed.
The ombudsman found there was confusion over who was responsible for maintaining Mrs Nash’s living conditions. The council’s failure to monitor this was a “serious service failure”.
Also, Mrs Nash had a tendency to overdress in hot weather and over-exercise, which was never addressed as a risk, and which eventually led to her admission to hospital in July 2009 with renal failure. She was later discharged to a care home.
“The lack of risk assessment meant that at the outset of the council’s involvement in Mrs Nash’s case, the council had no comprehensive strategy in place to manage the risks posed by her lack of capacity,” said ombudsman Dr Jane Martin.
She said it was possible that, had Mrs Nash received better care at home, her admission to residential care may have been avoided.
The council has agreed to pay £2,000 compensation to Mrs Nash and her step-daughter, who raised the complaint.
The council has apologised and instituted further training for its social workers on risk assessment and care planning.
A spokesperson said: “We are confident this is an isolated case, but it is clear the care received fell short of what our service users have the right to expect.”
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