Care received by West Sussex woman caused ‘distress’ during her final days

The county council has apologised after the report from the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman
The county council has apologised after the report from the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman

A woman has complained that the care received by her mother at a West Sussex care home caused ‘distress’ during the final days of her life.

The county council has apologised ‘unreservedly’ after the woman – known as Ms C – complained to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman about a list of incidents she said took place at the home.

They included:

• Staff repeatedly failing to give her mother a cardigan to keep her warm after they opened the window of her room to ‘air it’;

• Giving her mother medication in tablet form rather than liquid form when she had trouble swallowing; and

• ‘Unbearable’ noise from building work outside her mother’s room.

The ombudsman reported that, for three years, the home went through an ‘extensive programme of building works’.

During that time – just before Christmas 2017 – Ms C’s mother was moved to a new room where the only building work left to do was the laying of a new floor in the hallway.

Ms C said the care home had ‘failed to try and keep the noise for her mother to a minimum’.

The ombudsman reported: “There was continuous drilling and banging. The noise was unbearable and made it impossible to communicate.

“Her mother would moan and shout ‘shut up’.

“Ms C says this constant noise outside her mother’s room, made the final weeks unbearable for them. It did not give them the peace and quiet they needed during the last few weeks of her mother’s life.”

The ombudsman also listened to recordings of the noise made in January and February 2018, describing it as ‘significantly loud’.

Ms C also complained that the care home did not move her mother to a hospice when asked, and that, during the last few weeks of her life, staff would force her mother to eat.

Neither of these complaints were upheld.

The ombudsman said Ms C felt that ‘her mother’s final weeks of her life were not as peaceful and comfortable as it should have been, which caused her and her mother distress’.

A council spokesman said: “As the local safeguarding authority we have apologised unreservedly to the family who brought the complaint to the ombudsman, and discussions have been held with the provider to ensure their staff receive the necessary training to prevent similar issues arising in the future.”