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Unitary rapped over malnourished elderly patient

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Wokingham BC faces an eightfold increase in compensation to an elderly resident after the Local Government Ombudsman ruled she had become malnourished due to being inadequately cared for in a council-contracted care home.

The council had initially apologised and offered the woman’s family £500 in compensation.

But the ombudsman said the woman should receive £3,500 and her daughter £500.

In a report, the ombudsman said the vulnerable dementia patient lost a third of her body weight while living in the care home concerned, plummeting in three years from 61kg to 41kg and becoming malnourished. Her body mass index was only 15 when she left the home, below the 18-25 range deemed healthy.

Her family complained to Wokingham about the care received and the council accepted it had not supported the placement for the whole time the woman was in the home and did not review her care because of an administrative error.

Local Government Ombudsman Jane Martin

Local Government Ombudsman Jane Martin

Local Government Ombudsman Jane Martin

Ombudsman Jane Martin (pictured) said: “This case highlights the need to remind councils that when contracting out services to third parties, they cannot contract out the accountability for those services. Sadly, this is an example where a vulnerable woman and her family have suffered because their council has neglected its duty to them.

“I now urge Wokingham council to consider seriously my recommendations and take on board the changes it needs to make to ensure other people do not suffer in this way.”

Wokingham executive member for health and wellbeing Julian McGhee-Sumner (Con) said: “We are profoundly sorry for the poor care provided in this case, and for the distress this caused our care client and her family.”

He said the council had “fully addressed the concerns” and made changes to meet the ombudsman’s recommendations.

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