A FRAIL pensioner died after being moved to a cheaper, less suitable care home in Worcestershire - despite an advance assessment warning it would be "detrimental" to his health.
Worcestershire County Council has been heavily criticised by an official watchdog after a catalogue of failures surrounding the death of a 70-year-old man.
The Local Government Ombudsman has accused the council of trying to "contract out the responsibility" for his death in a shock report.
The county pensioner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went to hospital with a history of dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, heart and stroke problems in December 2010.
In February 2011 he left Worcestershire Royal Hospital and was placed in an £800-a-week private care home funded by the NHS.
The emergency funding package, under the NHS' "continuing health care" model came to an end in October 2011 and the county council took over responsibility for him.
A report by the Local Government Ombudsman says the county council's "usual rate" of care is £495 a week, so it moved him to another private care home one month later which was a "cheaper" and "less suitable" despite its own assessment warning it would be detrimental to his complex health needs.
The report then says:
- The new nursing him was "not suitable" and within 10 days of the move his condition got much worse
- Within a month his son complained to social workers about him developing pressure sores, being fed pureed food and being found in bed fully-clothed covered in sweat, as well as other instances of poor care
- Important notes were missing from his records and he was being sent to his room regularly for "shouting out"
- Despite complaints from the family the council never completed a safeguarding investigation properly and he died in January 2012, less than two months after his move, after going to hospital with pneumonia and dehydration.
The man had limited mobility, needed help from carers to get around, was doubly incontinent and needed support with his medication, eating and drinking, which he was getting at the old home.
The critical report also says council staff "failed" to give his family correct information on 'top-up' payments and "did not consider" if it should pay the old £800 weekly rate, even though it could have done so.
The council also failed to follow the statutory complaints process properly, and a follow-up investigation by the care home was found to be "incomplete".
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: "Worcestershire County Council’s social workers ignored their own recommendations which stated any move would have a detrimental effect on the man’s health and well-being and should have considered if any move should take place in these circumstances.
“While I cannot say that the new home and carers themselves caused the man’s condition to deteriorate, it is significant that his condition did worsen once he was moved.
“The council should have done more to check that the placement at the second home was suitable, and officers should have done more to follow up the son’s concerns.
“I would like to remind councils that while they can contract out care for the elderly to private homes such as this, they cannot contract out the responsibility."
Following the report the council have agreed to pay his family £1,500 and review its procedures.
All social care staff will be checked to ensure they know how to identify a complaint, what procedures to follow and how adult safeguarding works.
A council spokesman said: "We fully accept the findings of the Ombudsman in this case and are, as agreed, working on an agreed action plan to remedy the issues raised by the complaint.
"We have apologised to the family and also agreed to pay them £1,500 for the distress caused.
"Procedures at the council are currently being reviewed so similar instances do not occur in the future."
The identity of the care homes have not been revealed.