Leeds family demands answers over care of resident before her death as safeguarding failings found

Several failings have been found in the safeguarding of a care home resident who later died, a report has revealed.
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The woman, who has not been identified, died in December 2019, 10 months after her family first raised concerns regarding her care. An anonymised report by the Social Care Ombudsman said the family still have unanswered questions about their relative’s care in the 48 hours before she died, which was causing them “significant distress”.

A joint investigation by Leeds City Council and the local health authorities upheld or partially upheld six of seven complaints made by the resident’s family. The report said the family had been offered £2,500 in compensation, but that they felt the offer was “insulting”. But the Council has refused to release its own findings to avoid identifying the individuals involved.

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The Ombudsman’s report on the matter said a “thorough” probe by the council and the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) had accepted a number of failings by the system. These included delays in sharing information, poor communication and a decision to not to “handle matters more formally” when the lady’s care home “failed to provide required information”.

A Leeds family have unanswered questions about their relative’s care in the 48 hours before she died, a report said (stock image)A Leeds family have unanswered questions about their relative’s care in the 48 hours before she died, a report said (stock image)
A Leeds family have unanswered questions about their relative’s care in the 48 hours before she died, a report said (stock image)

A total of 14 recommendations had been made by the Council and the ICB off the back of the failings. However, the Ombudsman noted the family “are unhappy with the recommendations, which they do not feel go far enough to address the number and severity of the failings identified”.

It added: “They say the policy changes mean little to them and the financial sum offered is insulting as it fails to recognise the level of distress caused.”

The Ombudsman said the family “believe formal action should be taken against individuals within the Council and the ICB”. It added: “They are unhappy that no one has faced formal disciplinary or legal proceedings.”

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However, the Ombudsman said it could not take any further action, as this was outside its remit and any new investigation was “unlikely to achieve any more” than what had already been offered. The report added that the family wanted their concerns “referred back to the police as they consider the care home’s actions amount to a criminal matter”.

It added: “The police are aware of the matter complained about and are able to request further information if required. Again, we cannot influence this process.”

In a joint statement responding to the Ombudsman’s report, Leeds City Council and the ICB said: “The Council cannot share a copy of the investigation report because it contains personal identifiable information about the complainants and their deceased relative. The deceased’s care was fully funded by the former NHS Leeds CCG, now the Integrated Care Board in Leeds.

“A payment has been offered by the Council in recognition of failings in the safeguarding process identified in the investigation report and in recognition of the complainants distress and inconvenience. The complaint investigation report made a number of recommendations to improve practice, all of which the Council and the ICB are committed to implementing, and an action plan has been drawn up.”

West Yorkshire Police was contacted for comment, but didn’t respond.