'Vulnerable and isolated' 90 year-old died after social workers failed to carry out 'urgent' call

A "vulnerable" 90 year-old woman died after social workers failed to follow up a request to pay her an urgent visit.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 4:45 pm
Wakefield Coroner's Court. The damning report was published by chief coroner Kevin McLoughlin.

The pensioner, who lived alone in sheltered accommodation in Wakefield, was found by paramedics lying in a pool of her own faeces and vomit on June 3 this year, a coroner's report said.

She was taken to hospital after being found in a "semi-conscious state", but died several hours later.

A day earlier, a relative had phoned and emailed Wakefield Council's social care team to report that the woman had been lying in a soiled bed for several days.

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Despite the referral being marked as requiring an "urgent" response, no contact was made.

Wakefield Council said it extended its sympathies to the woman's family, and that changes had been made to its processes since the incident.

In his report, senior coroner for West Yorkshire, Kevin McLoughlin said that, "Despite being graded as ‘urgent’, no contact was made with an elderly, isolated, vulnerable lady, who was evidently in dire need."

"In consequence, (she) was left alone without the medical assistance which would probably have been called in, had she been seen.

"It is, however, not possible to say whether her life would have been saved, had she been admitted to hospital on June 2."

The report said that paramedics attended the woman's address, to the north of the city centre on June 3, after a social worker "suggested an ambulance be called".

Mr McLoughlin wrote: "In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken."

In response to the report, Lisa Willcox, service director for mental health and learning disabilities at Wakefield Council, said: "We take our responsibilities for caring for vulnerable people in our district very seriously.

"We are fully committed to all those who need our support, and we extend our sincere sympathies to the family of (the lady in this case).

"Lessons have been learned and changes were immediately put in place to ensure there is a prompt response to urgent referrals to the extended hours service.

“We have responded to the coroner’s statement and he acknowledged that positive action has been taken.”

Local Democracy Reporting Service