The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mrs X complains that the Care Provider did not respond appropriately when Mrs Y had a stroke. Mrs X says this delayed treatment and Mrs Y lost her ability to walk, her continence and her swallow as a result. The Ombudsman finds the Care Provider did not cause injustice.
- The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mrs X, complains that Care UK Community Partnerships Limited did not respond appropriately when her mother, Mrs Y, was unwell.
- Mrs X says Mrs Y had a stroke and the severe impact of this could have been lessened with a better response. Mrs Y lost her ability to walk, her continence and her swallow and this also affected the family.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about adult social care providers. If there has been fault, we consider whether it has caused an injustice and, if it has, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 34H(3) and (4), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a care provider’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
- We may investigate a complaint on behalf of someone who has died or who cannot authorise someone to act for them. The complaint may be made by:
- their personal representative (if they have one), or
- someone we consider to be suitable.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(2), as amended)
- In this case, I decided Mrs X was a suitable person to complain about these matters on behalf of Mrs Y.
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information from the Complainant and from the Council.
- I will send both parties a copy of my draft decision for comment and will take account of the comments I receive in response
What I found
- Mrs Y had various health conditions which caused her difficulties with cognition and daily living activities. She lived in Broadwater Lodge residential home run by Care UK Community Partnerships Limited (the Care Provider).
- I have looked at the Care Provider’s records which are in order and contain useful and relevant information.
- On 21 February 2018, Mrs Y was unwell. The Care Provider’s records show she ate some cornflakes and a couple of mouthfuls of toast for breakfast. She also drank a little and stayed at the table to read her newspaper. After a while, she was a little sick. The team leader advised staff to test her urine as she was prone to urine infections but it was negative. Mrs Y continued to say she felt sick when staff asked how she was and the team leader checked her twice more.
- Records, completed at 15:44 on the day, say Mrs Y ate and drank a few mouthfuls at lunch time including dessert. Mrs Y remained at the table reading her newspaper and about 2:30pm Mrs X visited. Mrs Y says it was 3.30 pm. Records completed later that day say the team leader noticed Mrs Y was dribbling during the afternoon medication round and called the senior team leader (STL) to check her. Records note Mrs X was concerned. The STL says she asked Mrs Y if she was feeling ok and she said yes. She could lift her arms as far as she would normally be able to, and could squeeze the STL’s hand. Her face did not appear to be drooping and she smiled while she was talking; her speech was normal. The STL advised staff to call the GP for advice and they did this at 3:45pm. Mrs X left around 4pm.
- Mrs X disputes much of this and says the signs of a stroke were evident when she arrived. She says Mrs Y’s mouth was dropped on one side, her eyes were wide open and she couldn’t speak well. She cannot remember the STL checking Mrs Y while she was there and she says one of the carers advised her that Mrs Y “had been like it” since that morning. She says “it” referred to the signs of a stroke because she had told the carer it appeared that Mrs Y had had a stroke.
- After Mrs X left, staff helped Mrs Y back to bed and say she drank small amounts. When the GP returned the call at 17:30, he advised staff to call an ambulance.
- When the ambulance arrived, the crew decided Mrs Y should go to hospital. Records show Mrs Y did not want to go but was eventually persuaded.
- Two days later, Mrs X advised the Care Provider that Mrs Y was still in hospital and had suffered a stroke.
Did the Care Provider’s actions cause injustice?
- The Care Provider’s records are consistent and appropriate. Mrs X’s account of events conflicts significantly with the Care Provider’s records, and with its staff statements. However, she does not dispute that she sat at the lunch table with Mrs Y and left around 4pm before the GP had responded.
- Mrs X says the signs of a stroke were evident when she arrived and is adamant that staff should have called an ambulance in the morning. She is angry about the delay in getting treatment for the stroke which meant the impact was more severe than it might otherwise have been. I do not agree with Mrs X that the carer’s comment that Mrs Y “had been like it” since the morning necessarily referred to signs of a stroke. It could have referred to being more generally unwell so I concluded this comment does not have the significance Mrs X suggests. Mrs X did not call an ambulance herself, and left the home before Mrs Y got medical attention. I have concluded this suggests her concerns were not as strong as they seem in retrospect and, on the balance of probability, I find the Care Provider caused no injustice.
- Although the event was distressing for Mrs X, and caused a significant impact on Mrs Y’s health and wellbeing, I cannot say the Care Provider caused this, or contributed to it. I am satisfied, on the balance of probability, the Care Provider responded adequately under the circumstances.
- I have completed my investigation and do not uphold Mrs X’s complaint that the Care Provider did not respond appropriately when Mrs Y was unwell.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman