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Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited (18 019 163)

Category : Adult care services > Residential care

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 28 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs A’s complaint about the care she received from the care provider. This is because it is unlikely he could add to the care provider’s response or make a finding of the kind Mrs A wants.

The complaint

  1. Mrs A says she is unhappy with the care she received when she went into care with her late husband for a week of respite. Mrs A says:
  • She agreed to pay £1050 but when she arrived the cost had increased to £1200
  • Food throughout the week was poor and did not cater for her specific needs;
  • Staff were rude and swore at her when she arrived late for breakfast;
  • The room was unsuitable and did not have a bedside lamp;
  • She was not helped to shower or brush her hair every day.

Mrs A says she should be reimbursed the full cost of her stay.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the care provider, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

(Local Government Act 1974, sections 34B(8) and (9))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I discussed the complaints 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.

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What I found

  1. Mrs A was unhappy with the care she received when she and her husband had a week of respite in a nursing home.
  2. Mrs A says the cost of the care increased on arrival without warning or being advised. The care provider says respite care charges start from £1050 which Mrs A had paid previously. However, it says Mrs A was advised on assessment the cost would be £1200. The care provider said on this occasion it would refund both Mr and Mrs A the £150 difference and sent a cheque for £300.
  3. The care provider has reimbursed Mrs A the difference between what she believed she had agreed to pay so there is no unremedied injustice for the Ombudsman to consider.
  4. Mrs A says staff were rude and swore at her when she attended late for breakfast due to carers attending Mr A, and food was generally poor and did not meet her specific needs.
  5. The care provider responded these points. It says;

‘You state that the chef stated that he could not make a jacket potato at 5pm as this would take him a couple of hours to make and that it would not be ready before he finished his shift. You informed me that you are a professional chef and that you could make a jacket potato within 30 mins and that the refusal to make a jacket potato is unacceptable. I understand that you were instead offered sandwiches. I discussed this with the chef who was in post at the time and he has advised that he has no recollection of this incident and without prompting he said that it would only take 30 mins for him to make you a jacket potato and he would have been happy to do so.

You advise that the following day the chef was again rude to you when you attended for breakfast at 1010 hours. You state that when you attended for breakfast the chef swore at you because of the time you arrived for breakfast and that you were provided with a cooked breakfast that was of poor quality and had been reheated. I discussed this with the chef who stated that he remembers you attending for breakfast and denies being rude or swearing at you. He stated that during your stay he made a personalised breakfast every morning for you and the late Mr [A]. The chef also stated that he spoke with you and the late Mr [A] to offer advice about places to visit during your stay and good places to eat whilst out for the day. He informed me that you had suggested that you and your husband would go out for large lunches during your stay and would have a ‘light’ dinner upon your return to the care home.

You further advised that there was no fresh fruit available, or served at dinner time and when you asked about this you were told that it presents a choking hazard and as such there wasn’t any. I discussed this with the chef and he advised that there is a bowl of fruit on each floor and that some residents are served fresh fruit daily. He stated that whilst there may not be some items always available, there was always a selection available’.

  1. There is clearly a dispute about what was said between Mrs A and the staff member. However, the Ombudsman could not make a finding on these points as he was not present.
  2. Mrs A says she did not have a shower, help to fasten her bra or brush her hair every day. The care provider says:

Whilst it is noted within the pre-admission assessment that you do not require assistance with hair care or dressing the records do demonstrate that you were helped with your bra on 25 September 2018, 28 September 2018, 29 September 2018 (notes assisted with care) and 30 September 2018. During our conversation, you mentioned that the staff failed to assist you for 2 days and this appears to tie in with the records. I am sorry that you were not helped with your hair and dressing every day.

  1. The Ombudsman could not add to this or make a different finding even if he investigated.
  2. Mrs A says the room was unsuitable. The care provider says:

‘On each day of your stay our housekeeping team and the Manager who was supporting the home at the time enquired as to your comfort and asked if you had any issues or concerns and ensure you were both happy with your stay. They have confirmed that were not informed until the last day of your stay that you were unable to reach the bedside light, paper towel dispenser and the toilet roll. We would have been happy to correct this had we been made aware before’

  1. While Mrs A had some difficulties during her stay she did not bring them to the attention of staff who, could have ensured she received daily personal care and access to items she did not have or could not reach. Further investigation by the Ombudsman could not add to the care provider’s response or make a different finding.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely he could add to the care provider’s response or make a finding of the kind Mrs A wants.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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