Inquiry launched into death of woman following loss of home care

Safeguarding probe to look at why alternative care was not arranged for woman who starved to death after home care agency was raided by immigration officers.

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A safeguarding probe has been launched into the death of a woman after she went nine days without home care because the agency she had been using had been shut down in an immigration raid.

Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board is conducting the inquiry into why alternative care arrangements were not made for Gloria Foster, from Banstead in Surrey, following the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) raid on agency Carefirst 24 over the alleged employment of illegal immigrants, on 15 January.

Mrs Foster was found on 24 January after going nine days without medication, food or drink, the Sutton Guardian has reported. She died this week in Epsom Hospital.

“Our thoughts are with Mrs Foster’s family and friends at this terrible time,” said a Surrey Council spokesperson. “The safety of vulnerable adults is our top priority, which is why this tragic event is already being urgently looked at by the Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board to review how the agencies involved handled the case.”

Though Carefirst 24, which is based in Cheam in Sutton, is still registered with the Care Quality Commission to provide personal and nursing care, the CQC said it had been closed by the UKBA.

The UKBA said that it met with both Sutton and Surrey councils twice before the raid to warn them of the need to make alternative arrangements for Carefirst 24’s clients. Following the raid, a list of clients found in Carefirst 24’s offices was passed to the Metropolitan Police, who then liaised with the two councils.

It is not clear whether Mrs Foster had arranged her own care with Carefirst 24 or whether this had been arranged by Surrey Council. In residential care, councils are under a duty to step in to provide the care people need if it is not otherwise available to them, regardless of who has arranged the care.

In the case of domiciliary care, if the care were arranged by the council, it would be under a duty to step in to ensure eligible needs continued to be met. If the home care was arranged by the service user, the council would be under a duty to assess the person but not to immediately arrange substitute care.

The draft Care and Support Bill would impose a duty on councils to meet the tempoary need for care and support for any person, whether self-funding or not, whether in residential settings or not, if a provider fails.

The inquiry by Surrey Safeguarding Adults Board is not believed to be a serious case review.

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