Dad died after staff at a Middlesbrough care home failed to tell family about covid outbreak

The Hemlington care home failed to notify the family or the council of the outbreak during September 2021. Credit: GAZETTE MEDIA COMPANY SYNDICATION

A Teesside dad died after catching covid during a respite stay at a Middlesbrough care home after staff failed to tell his family about an outbreak.Redcar and Cleveland Council has been told to apologise after the dementia patient - known as Mr Y - died after he caught covid at Stainton Lodge Care Centre.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says the family were stopped from making an informed decision after the Hemlington care home failed to notify the family or the council of the outbreak.In a response to Mr Y's son's complaint - following a visit to the care home - a council spokesperson said that it: "revealed poor recording of temperature checks and lateral flow tests."

They added that an inspection of infection prevention and control measures just days after Mr Y's death showed areas of concern, including inadequate use of PPE and clinical waste bins in corridors outside the rooms of people who had tested positive for the virus.Mr Y lived at home with support from his family and had been diagnosed with dementia along with a number of other age-related medical conditions, some of which affected his lungs.

His son, known in the report as Mr X, was due to go away in September 2021 and Redcar and Cleveland Council arranged 18 days of residential respite care at Stainton Lodge Care Home, where Mr Y's wife was already a resident.On 23 August last year, Stainton Lodge had an outbreak of Covid in a ground floor unit and Public Health England advised the care home to do a risk assessment before taking on new residents.

Mr X says the care centre did not tell them about the outbreak, despite having informed them about previous outbreaks.Almost a month later, staff from Stainton Lodge visited Mr Y at home on 21 September to test him for Covid and Mr X's partner (Ms W) was with him during the visit.

The care home claims to have told them about the outbreak but Ms W says this is not true.Mr X says that had he known about the outbreak, he would have arranged other care for his father while he was away as his family had made consistent efforts during the pandemic to protect Mr Y from the virus.

After he tested negative for the virus, Mr Y visited the care home on 23 September, but less than two weeks later, on 5 October, Mr Y was reported as having a temperature.The next day, Ms W called to arrange a visit for 7 October but was told Stainton Lodge had closed to visitors because of a covid outbreak.

That day the care home told Mr X his father had tested positive and on 8 October he was taken to hospital.Mr X returned home and was told his father's condition was stable but on 10 October his health had deteriorated and Mr X and his family visited to say goodbye.

Mr Y died the next day.In April 2020 - just over a month after the first lockdown was announced - Stainton Lodge Care Centre confirmed that 17 of their residents died since the start of the pandemic.

While two were confirmed as having tested positive for covid, the other 15 died before tests could be carried out.The care home were contracted for comment by Teesside Live but leadership had not responded at the time of publication.Following his father's passing, Mr X wrote to the council and was told that a visit to Stainton Lodge Care Centre revealed poor recording of temperature checks and lateral flow tests while an inspection on 30 September showed areas of concern.

While records showed limited staff movement between units - in line with government guidance - the council said Stainton Lodge failed to do a covid risk assessment involving Mr Y's family and his social worker.There is also no documented evidence of staff telling the family about the covid outbreak in Stainton Lodge's records and the council said there had been "communication failings between other public bodies over the covid outbreak".

They said the council would refund Mr Y the £505.42 respite stay.The council said, according to the ombudsman report, that Stainton Lodge would be asked to complete accurate and timely records for staff and visitors, including negative test results, temperatures, covid vaccinations and names and signatures of visitors.They were also told to update covid risk assessments for all residents and complete them for all new residents in cooperation with key professionals; and improve communications with families and professionals over outbreaks.The council also said it would work with other public bodies to ensure improved communication over outbreaks of covid.The report stated: "Mr X says they had kept Mr Y safe from Covid-19, even when Ms W contracted it.

"He says Mr Y would not have caught Covid-19 if he had not gone to Stainton Lodge."The reported concluded: "Stainton Lodge’s failings are faults for which the council is accountable.

"They prevented Mr Y’s family from making an informed decision about placing him there."It added: "It seems unlikely they would have agreed to do so and therefore Mr Y would not have contracted Covid-19 at Stainton Lodge from which he died.

"This has caused avoidable distress and justifiable anger."It also stated: "I recommended the council within four weeks writes to Mr X acknowledging and apologising for the failings I have identified and makes a symbolic payment to him of £1,500 for the distress caused. The council has agreed to do this."A spokesperson for Redcar and Cleveland Council said: "We would like to sincerely apologise for the circumstances of this case and our sympathies and thoughts are with the family.

"Our investigation identified a number of failings on the part of the care home that we commissioned to provide the respite care and these failings are listed in the ombudsman’s summary report.They added: "We fully accept the findings of the ombudsman’s report and have actioned the recommendations.

"Lessons learned have been shared with all relevant parties to help ensure there is not a repeat occurrence."