Hertfordshire County Council (23 007 267)

Category : Adult care services > Residential care

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 22 Oct 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about adult social care in a nursing home. It is unlikely we could add to the Council’s investigations or achieve any different outcome.

The complaint

  1. A Care Provider acting on behalf of the Council failed to provide the correct care and kindness to Mr B, who died while in its care. Mr B’s wife, Mrs C, is devastated. Mrs C feels Mr B may have lived longer with the right care and nutrition.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide:
  • we could not add to any previous investigation by the organisation, or
  • further investigation would not lead to a different outcome.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended, section 34(B))

  1. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 set out the fundamental standards that registered care providers must achieve. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has guidance on how to meet the fundamental standards. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the statutory regulator of care services.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mr B died during a short stay at Woodlands View care home (the Care Provider). The Council arranged the placement, so remained the responsible body to meet Mr B’s care needs.
  2. Mrs C is understandably devastated by her husband’s death. The Ombudsman cannot decide cause of death, and an Ombudsman investigation could never decide the Care Provider’s actions on behalf of the Council caused or contributed to Mr B’s death.
  3. The Care Provider has thoroughly investigated Mrs C’s complaints, and the Council has completed a safeguarding enquiry. These investigations found the Care Provider had failed in some areas of the care provided to Mr B, specifically there was poor record keeping so could not show whether all necessary care was provided. The Care Provider apologised to Mrs C and actions such as staff training and checking have been implemented to prevent future problems.
  4. We cannot provide any remedy to Mr B for the impact on him caused by the failings in care.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs C’s complaint because it is unlikely we could add to the investigations already undertaken, or that an Ombudsman investigation would lead to any different outcome.
  2. Under our information sharing agreement, we will share this decision with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The Care Provider’s failures in record keeping and care provision may be a breach of fundamental standards.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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