Overdose death followed funding confusion over woman’s care

Overdose death followed funding confusion over woman’s care

By Gareth Dennison | 12/02/2021

Overdose death followed funding confusion over woman’s care

 

A WOMAN who spent five years in care homes after a fall died from an overdose following “a series of failures”, Rotherham Council admitted.

Elizabeth — not her real name — suffered life-changing injuries, was unable to work and became dependent on others.

But her care needs became “entangled” in questions over which organisation would fund her support, a safeguarding adults review found.

Elizabeth began drinking more, became traumatised by her mum’s sudden death and died herself, aged 60, from an overdose followed by pneumonia.

The review — formerly known as a serious case review — said: “The fall left Elizabeth with life-changing injuries.

“She was no longer able to return to the home she shared with her mother or resume her employment.

“She was dependent on others for meeting her care and support needs.


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“Sadly, her mother died suddenly in the year prior to her death and left Elizabeth traumatised and grieving. This led to an increase in alcohol intake and anxiety.

“Somehow during this period Elizabeth’s needs became entangled with funding processes such as continuing healthcare, independent funding review and social care funding.”

The review concluded that a more “person-centred” approach was needed.

It said: “We will of course never know if Elizabeth would have taken an overdose if circumstances had been different.

“What we can say is that her lifestyle change following her fall and the death of her mother had an untold impact on the way in which she saw her future.

“We have learnt that sometimes the process surrounding funding decisions and constraints in systems means that we can take our eyes off the person and each other.

“There is learning for agencies in understanding multidisciplinary working, developing a shared language and managing escalation.”

Seven recommendations were included in Rotherham Safeguarding Adults Board’s annual review, including better signposting and understanding of the escalation process.

However the top one was to ensure that funding was a consideration — but does not drive decisions about care.

Cllr Victoria Cusworth, who chairs RMBC’s Improving Lives select commission, said: “I don’t think anybody reading that wasn’t really upset by it.

“The report talks about the difficulties in funding from the different pots and reads as if that might have been a contribution to the pressure Elizabeth felt that she was under.”

Adult social care director Ian Spicer agreed, saying: “There’s a series of failures in the system.

“That was certainly a contributory factor... the lack of clarity for Elizabeth, for the people around her, about who was paying for what, when was she eligible, what was the threshold.

“But that was something that really she shouldn’t have needed to experience.

“That was down to the professionals around her to make sure the right care and support was delivered regardless of the funding arrangements.

“What we take from this is that regardless of who is funding, the needs are the needs.

“The assessed needs should be met regardless and that is the principle we adopt.”

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