Apology issued after woman dies in home care failure
A public apology has been made to the family of a Reading woman who died after care failures, by Reading Borough Council’s lead council member for adult social care, Tony Jones and the director of adult social care, Seona Douglas. Paula Hoggarth, a regional director at the Radis Group, which runs the home care agency which had been commissioned by the council to provide care for the woman, added that staff had been fully retrained on emergency procedures. All three were addressing the council committee about their response to the Local Government Ombudsman’s decision to uphold a complaint from the family of the woman, about the failure of home care workers to dial 999. As well as £100 compensation ordered by the Ombudsman, the council has agreed a lasting tribute to the family, in the form of two family burial plots in the cemetery where the woman was buried. The council has also retrained staff and put in place weekly safeguarding meetings.
More work needed to make local people feel safe
Fewer adults feel safe and secure using adult social care services in Reading (77%) than the national average (86%) and when compared with similar local authorities in England, according to performance data. Seona Douglas, director of adult social care services, said the measure was subjective, because when people answered it, they might be talking about how safe they generally felt in their house, neighbourhood or town, but the council did need to take notice of the finding because it was one way the council’s performance was measured. Over 65s in Reading felt safer (80.5%) compared with 18-64-year-olds (74.2%). Other figures showed:
- 17% of Reading people had opted to receive direct payments from the council to directly buy social care services they were eligible to receive, much less than the average for the South East of England. However, the amount had increased from 12% the year before and more was being done to make people aware of this option.
- The number of older people in Reading who remain at home 91 days after leaving hospital, is well above the national average, suggesting that they are getting the care they need to recover and become independent at home.
- The number of older people that the council is placing in residential care homes is lower than similar local authorities, suggesting that people are being supported to stay in their own homes for longer.
Council expands Shared Lives Scheme
The ‘adult fostering’ scheme known as Shared Lives is being expanded in Reading to encourage more people to offer a permanent or part-time home to people aged over 65. The scheme currently supports 42 people, mainly with learning disabilities, who live in, or visit 23 homes of 33 people who have been approved as paid carers. The council has started a marketing campaign, on Reading Buses, leaflets in libraries and GP surgeries, and through the media. It has also recruited an officer who will aim to oversee 15 new placements. It costs the council around £15,700 for a Shared Lives placement, compared with £28,000 to put a person in a residential home. However, Councillor Tony Jones, lead member for adult social care said savings were ‘a bonus’ but not the main driver – it was about widening options for people and offering a potentially more homely environment.