St Albans care home forced to apologise for ‘injustices’ to woman in care

Audrey and her husband.

Audrey and her husband. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans care home has been forced to apologise for “injustices” against a woman in its care.

A Local Government and Social Care ombudsman has upheld a complaint against The Orchard Nursing Home on Camp Road which alleged it did not treat Audrey Love correctly.

The 92-year-old, referred to as Mrs X in the report, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2001 and needs full-time care from her son, Andy.

Andy lodged numerous complaints against The Orchard, which is managed by Caring Homes Healthcare Group and was looking after Audrey three days a week until 2017.

The ombudsman could not establish who was at fault with some of the grievances. For example, he could not say what caused Audrey to return to Andy's care with bruised shins or whether anyone replaced Audrey's incontinence underwear backwards and soiled.

In some cases, such as if she was undressed without good reason, The Orchard was found faultless.

On some matters, the ombudsman found The Orchard to be at fault. These instances include leaving Audrey in outdoor clothes while inside, wrongly fitting a head stabilisation collar so she struggled to breathe, and positioning Audrey so a buckle gave her a hip injury.

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The report said although Audrey has not been seriously injured by these incidences, that is the result of "good fortune". He also said there was a pattern of miscommunication by The Orchard, which alleges Andy was aggressive in meetings.

Recognising that checks to ensure neck collars are correctly fitted have been implemented, the ombudsman ruled that The Orchard must apologise to Andy and pay him £250.

Andy, who became Audrey's full time carer in 2013, said he was never looking for money: "It was hard to pin down who was responsible [for some of the alleged grievances], but I am comfortable with the outcome and hope that lessons have been learnt."

A spokesperson from The Orchard said: "We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the Ombudsman, which we feel did not fairly consider our responses to Mr Love's allegations, made over two years ago."

She added their charges' wellbeing is a priority, adding: "The complaint does not reflect the feedback that we typically receive from residents and family members and the high-quality care and support we pride ourselves on."