Carer told widow husband who had been dead for ‘some time’ was sleeping
- Credit: Archant
A care worker failed to notice a man she was looking after had died - and told his wife he was sleeping.
A report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has revealed that rigor mortis had already started to set in when the woman found her husband, called Mr X in the report, dead in his chair.
Just minutes before, as they left the house, the care worker had said the woman's husband was sleeping.
The woman, who has been left anonymous, had been sleeping separately from her husband that night due to the level of pain he was in, having been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
An agency care worker was sent by Norfolk County Council to provide overnight care and was stationed in the room in which Mr X was sleeping.
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At around 6.30am, Mrs X went downstairs to check on her husband and was told he was asleep. The carer left around 10 minutes later.
Soon after her departure, Mrs X discovered her husband dead, with his eyes open.
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The ombudsman's report says paramedics who arrived shortly after believed the man had been dead for some time.
Following the incident, Mrs X also faced a drawn-out complaints process, in which she was required to recount events to five separate officers.
The investigator's report said: "Mrs X's injustice is two-fold. She had the shock and distress of finding her husband dead whilst she was alone.
"She then suffered additional frustration and distress at having to pursue a complain about this."
The ombudsman ordered Norfolk County Council to pay Mrs X £500 by way of compensation and issue a sincere apology from the director of adult services.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "This sad case arose due to the failures of a care provider which is no longer in business.
"We have apologised to Mrs X in writing for the shortcomings in our handling of our investigation and have agreed with the decision to compensate her.
"This is one of a number of outstanding complaints being considered by the Ombudsman which will be released over the next few months. The council has already taken steps to address the underlying issues involved."