Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 22 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs A’s complaint about the care given to her mother, Mrs B by her previous care provider. This is because the care provider’s actions have not caused Mrs B a significant enough injustice to warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.
- Mrs A says her 95-year-old mother, Mrs B, did not receive appropriate care from her care provider who failed to give her soft foods even though she had been diagnosed with dysphagia and could not swallow. Mrs A says Mrs B was fed solid food including fish and chips even though family members told them she needed soft food and was a high risk of choking. Mrs A says Mrs B’s physical and mental health deteriorated because of the care provider’s actions and, although she has now moved to a nursing home and is well cared for, she cannot recover from the poor care she received. Mrs A says Mrs B’s care provider should have contacted the Speech and Language Therapy Services (SALT) sooner than it did. Mrs A says the care provider should reimburse her the full cost of the care she paid for during her stay in the home
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about adult social care providers. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- the action has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants,
(Local Government Act 1974, sections 34B(8) and (9))
How I considered this complaint
- I discussed the complaint with Mrs A and considered the information and documentation provided by Mrs A and the care provider. I sent Mrs A a copy of my draft decision for comment.
What I found
- Mrs A says Mrs B’s received poor care during her stay in the home between September and April and was given solid food when she should have received soft food.
- The care provider apologised for the delay in dealing with Mrs A’s complaint. It met with her in October and considered the issues she raised. It agreed communication could have been better and says its contacted SALT to provide training for staff who assist residents with meals. It also agreed to reimburse Mrs B for missing items.
- The care provider apologised that Mrs B was given fish and chips on one occasion, and confirmed the staff member had been dealt with appropriately. It disagreed Mrs B had received poor care during her stay.
- Mrs A says Mrs B’s physical and mental health deteriorated because of the care she received in the home.
- Mrs A says Mrs B was assessed by the SALT team on the day she left the home and advised giving Mrs B solid food was extremely dangerous and she was a high risk of choking. The Ombudsman cannot remedy injustice to a person which has not happened.
- The Ombudsman would not be able to link the deterioration in Mrs B’s health to the care she received, especially given her age and that she had been assessed as requiring nursing care and needed to move to a different home.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the care provider’s actions have not caused Mrs B a significant enough injustice to warrant an investigation by the Ombudsman.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman