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Homecare provider criticised after woman suffers serious burns at home

January 9, 2019

A homecare provider and the council which commissioned its services has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman after an elderly woman suffered severe burns from being left sitting too close to a radiator.

The woman, who had previously suffered a stroke, was being looked after in her home and had limited feeling in her right side, and difficulty communicating. Following the incident, during which she was left on a commode in her bathroom, the woman received burns to her leg described as being “between seven and 12.5 centimetres in length and one to two centimetres in width”, and was screaming in pain. Despite this, it took care workers nearly three hours to identify she needed urgent medical attention.

The woman received hospital treatment, but her wounds became infected. She has been unable to return home and now lives in a care home.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the care agency failed to provide safe care, causing the woman to receive a serious injury, and avoidable pain and distress. The agency also failed to identify obvious environmental risks in her home and to design a plan to minimise those risks.

The report also found fault with the carers’ failure to seek urgent medical attention so the woman could have pain relief quickly. Agency workers also failed to provide an accurate account of what happened, and case records provided to a later safeguarding investigation were misleading.

The Ombudsman also found delay in the council’s safeguarding investigation.

“This distressing case serves to reinforce the need for carers to undertake thorough assessments of the care environment and the risks that they may pose, and the actions they need to take to mitigate those risks,” said Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King.

“I hope the measures the council will now be putting in place will enable it to keep closer oversight of the agencies it contracts to carry out care on its behalf and ensure other vulnerable clients are not put at risk.”

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