The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s concerns about the handling of her complaint following her mother’s fall at a care home. This is because it is unlikely we could achieve anything more for Mrs X.
- The complainant, Mrs X, complains about a care home’s handling of her complaint about the care provided to her mother, Mrs Y. She says that as a result of neglect her mother spent more than a week in hospital and her dementia has become worse.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. Where an individual, organisation or private company is providing services on behalf of a council, we can investigate complaints about the actions of these providers as if they were the actions of the council. (Local Government Act 1974, section 25(7), as amended)
- We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I reviewed Mrs X’s complaint, the care home’s response issued on behalf of the Council, the investigation report and the safeguarding referral. I shared my draft decision with Mrs X and invited her comments.
What I found
- Mrs Y fell from her chair in mid-2019 while at a care home. Care home staff found her on the floor, carried out an initial examination to ensure she was not seriously hurt and then put her to bed. It accepts that due to the medication she was on it should have contacted the NHS’s 111 advice line and should also have completed an incident form at the time. It further says it should have encouraged Mrs Y to change into her night-clothes and to go to bed, sooner.
- Mrs X complained about the care provided by the care home but was not happy with its handling of her complaint. She says a meeting to discuss her complaint was not conducted impartially and that employees provided conflicting and false information about the way the complaint had been investigated.
- As the Council commissioned Mrs Y’s care, Mrs X’s complaint is registered against the Council; we have no direct jurisdiction over the care home in this case but as detailed at Paragraph 2 we may consider the actions of the care home as actions on behalf of the Council.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. The care home’s report on Mrs Y’s fall is thorough and it has agreed to service improvements to reduce the likelihood of repetition and to ensure correct procedures are followed in future. This is a suitable response to the substantive issue and it is unlikely we would recommend anything further.
- Mrs X suggests the care home’s poor response to the fall led to a deterioration in Mrs Y’s health. She says it has made her mother’s dementia worse and led to her spending 10 days in hospital. But the Ombudsman cannot make a direct causal link between the care home’s response to Mrs Y’s fall on the Council’s behalf, and Mrs Y’s ill-health. We could not therefore recommend a remedy for this.
- Mrs X is also unhappy about the handling of her complaint but it is not a good use of public resources to look at complaints handling if we are not going to look at the substantive issue complained about.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the care home, on behalf of the Council, has agreed to improvements to address the failures it identified and it is unlikely we would recommend any further remedy in this case.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman