A woman who fell in her home, spent the night on the floor and later died in hospital was not visited as arranged by care workers on the day she had a fall, according to a report.
Nottinghamshire County Council has apologised to the woman’s family and been told to pay compensation of £1,000.
The woman, referred to as Mrs X, died in March last year, during the “Beast from the East” cold weather period.
An ombudsman has looked into the case and reported: “Failure to make proper contingency arrangements caused injustice to the woman’s family, who are left with the uncertainty of not knowing whether their mother’s death was hastened by her fall.”
The council had brought in a private care provider called Carewatch to do four home visits a day to Mrs X’s house.
On the night of her fall (February 28) Carewatch failed to visit Mr X, who lived in Nottinghamshire, despite her daughter saying she was told they would be able to attend.
The next morning, March 1, the daughter received a phone call from Carewatch to say they would not be able to attend at all that day, and possibly not the next day either.
As the daughter was phoning neighbours to ask someone to visit her mother, she received a call to say Mrs X had fallen the previous evening, spent the night on the floor and had been taken to hospital.
Mrs X died in hospital the following day.
The daughter says she was assured twice on February 28 that a carer would attend her mother that night and, as a result, she did not make alternative arrangements for someone to call round in the evening.
The Local Government and Adult Social Care Ombudsman found: “Carewatch (acting on behalf of the council) failed to provide the care as stipulated and left a vulnerable elderly service user without care. That was fault, and a breach of the regulations.
“That was compounded by the assurances it gave to Ms A that it could provide care that night: had she not been assured of that, Ms A would have made arrangements for a neighbour to attend instead.
“It was fault for the care provider to fail to give the right information.
“Carewatch says it was assured by the council that an in-house team would deliver care instead. The council has no record of a call from Carewatch that day at all.
“The injustice caused to the woman’s daughter and her family is the uncertainty of not knowing whether Mrs X would have fallen that evening and subsequently died if Carewatch had taken the right action.”
Cherry Dunk, group manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We accept the Ombudsman’s findings and have apologised to the family for the distress caused by the actions of the care provider.
“On this occasion, Carewatch failed to meet the standard we require of all our care providers to have contingency plans in place for an emergency. We no longer use this provider.”
Carewatch, which no longer works in the area, has been approached for comment.
Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service