Reading Borough Council has been found at fault in two decisions published recently by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The ombudsman is the final port of call for people with complaints, if they are unhappy with how a council dealt with their concerns originally.

One of the cases involved a woman who died in hospital after a fall in her home in 2017. She had been getting visits by care workers from the agency Radis, organised by Reading Borough Council.

The Ombudsman’s investigation showed that care workers missed a lunchtime visit, care logs were incomplete, and the agency’s own emergency procedures were not followed. The investigation also found the council’s safeguarding investigation was not robust enough in identifying the faults.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “The woman in this case was clearly unwell when care workers made their visits. We cannot say whether earlier medical intervention might have resulted in a better outcome for her, but the family has been left not knowing whether their mother and grandmother might have survived had care workers acted differently.

“Councils can outsource care, but they cannot outsource responsibility for that care, which is why we are finding the council at fault for the actions of the care provider.”

The ombudsman has told the council to: pay the woman’s son £100 for the time and trouble of making the complaint; to ensure the care company has properly trained staff; review is complaints procedures; and to remind staff involved in safeguarding enquiries ‘the importance of ensuring reports are factual and accurate’.

In the other case, the ombudsman found that a man with autism and learning disabilities did not receive appropriate care and support at the supported living home, Hilltops, where he had been placed by Reading Borough Council. This included sleeping on a urine-soaked mattress for some time, not being offered enough varied activities and staff not trained in how to communicate with him.

The man’s social worker had picked up that Hilltops, run by Voyage 1, was not suitable and arranged for him to be moved, but the social worker did not tell the council’s own quality team about the concerns. This meant Hilltops was not investigated by the council until around four months later.

The ombudsman ordered the council to pay £1,000 to the man, £100 to his mother, to say sorry to both, and to remind staff of correct procedures.

* Since 1 April 2018, people can get free, independent help to make complaints about adult social care arranged or provided by Reading Borough Council, from Reading Voice, the advocacy service run by Healthwatch Reading. Phone in confidence on 0118 937 2295.

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