Tragedy of elderly couple split up by the Royal Borough

An elderly couple married for 59 years were split up with little regard for their welfare by the Royal Borough, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The couple were separated when the wife was discharged to a care home after leaving hospital.

The husband was left to live in the family home with the help of care workers but stopped eating or drinking properly.

When the family complained the council agreed to take more steps to help the man visit his wife, but he passed away a few weeks after.

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A report by the Ombudsman found the council took too long to assess the man’s needs initially. Later, when his needs had changed following a hospital admission, there was no evidence it had completed an up to date assessment.

The Ombudsman also found the quality of care provided to the man was poor from the first company employed by the council, and he was left without the care he needed by the second company.

On one occasion, after he was discharged from hospital the man was found by his family in urine-soaked clothes after the care worker had turned up too early and the man had not wanted to be helped to bed at that time.

He was left in his chair fully clothed. The care worker had only stayed for 10 minutes instead of the scheduled 30 minutes and did not help him to the toilet. All the lights were left on and the man’s walking stick was placed too far away for him to reach from his chair.

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Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Michael King said: “This case is a prime example of the council losing sight of the real people behind its busy caseload. It appears there was little regard paid to the couple’s dignity or basic human rights with terrible consequences for the family.”

The council was told it should apologise to the couple’s son and daughter and pay them £750 each to recognise the distress it caused in failing to properly consider the risks of separating their parents.

It should also pay the son a further £500 for the time, trouble and distress of bringing the complaint.

Slough Observer | News