Cambridgeshire family awarded compensation for carer who 'flopped to floor wailing' at mum's death

A carer "flopped to the floor wailing" after hearing news on a client's death. Credit: Press Association

A grieving family has been awarded £6,000 in compensation from a council after their mother's carer spent 20 minutes on the floor "wailing and crying" following news of her death.

An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman found the worker had behaved in an "exceptionally unprofessional manner" which had been "shocking and distressing" for the woman's daughters.

It also identified concerns about the care given to the woman, referred to as Mrs X, particularly in the days leading up to her death when she complained of pain.

Mrs X lived on her own in Cambridgeshire and received two care visits a day to help with personal care and getting dressed and undressed.

The county council commissioned support from Regional Care, a Peterborough-based care agency.

At the beginning of January 2022, Mrs X's daughters, known as Mrs A and Ms B, were in regular contact with their mother over several days during which she said she had been in bed with stomach pain.

Despite calls to 111 and her GP, and visits from carers, it was three days before an ambulance took her to hospital. She was moved to intensive care and died on 11 January 2022.

Later that day, Ms B answered a call to Mrs X's phone from the carer and told her she was dead. A report by the LGO said the carer "screamed and said she would be there in five minutes".

Mrs A told investigators the carer had "let herself into the property where she began banging on the wall first by the bathroom near the front door screaming and wailing".

"She then ran into mum's bedroom and started picking up mum's clothes, hugging them, and then flopped to the floor still wailing and crying," she continued.

"All we could do was just stand and stare at her... This went on for about 20 minutes until we had to tell [the carer] we had to go out and sort things out. We were on our way to the funeral directors."

The family submitted a complaint to Regional Care about the care Mrs X had received and the "insensitive performance" of the carer.

In their response, the provider said its staff had not thought the woman was "suffering a lot of pain" so had not contacted her daughters or doctor.

The report added: "[Regional Care's representative] said the carer’s response when told of Mrs X’s death was because she was shocked by the news. He acknowledged it was unprofessional.

"He said the carer should have told the office about Mrs X’s ill health but instead had told Mrs X to contact the office herself. He said she had been disciplined."

Mrs A went on to complain to the ombudsman and a full investigation was carried out between February 2022 and April 2022.

It found a series of "late, missed and short calls" by the carers, poor record-keeping, and poor management and oversight.

Investigators also found "the carer acted in an exceptionally unprofessional manner. Her response to the news of Mrs X's death was personally shocking and distressing for Mrs X's family".

Regional Care is currently rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

Cambridgeshire County Council - which was deemed responsible as the care commissioner - decided to pay four members of Mrs X's family £1,500 each "in recognition of the distress caused to them by the actions of the care provider".

The report added: "It is not possible to say whether prompt medical help might have led to a different outcome but Mrs X’s family are left with that uncertainty."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "We fully accept the findings of the ombudsman's report and we are deeply sorry for the upset caused by the actions of the commissioned care provider.

"We were already working with the provider to review and improve their services."

The council had suspended its contract with Regional Care but, having "made good progress", the suspension has now been lifted.

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