"Failure by Social Services to assess older people's mental capacity"

About: Bexley Queen Elizabeth Hospital / Older people's healthcare Queen Mary's Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a relative),

Mum’s story. Some great care, missed communications & let down by Bexley Social Services who failed to asses properly. People may be at risk.

In brief:

Mum was admitted to hospital three weeks ago following a fall. She was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich and later transferred to Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup.

Whilst in The QE in Woolwich she received good medical care, however the communication between services was almost non-existent. She was assessed by the mental health team as not having the capacity to decide on her care.

Mum can present as very credible and most people could be taken in when she says she can cook and care for herself. That’s until you dig deeper and ask others, when you find out she has almost set fire to the flat on two occasions, and was found sitting quietly in a room full of smoke apparently unaware. So it was no surprise that the Mental Health team found her to not to have the capacity to keep herself safe.

Despite this she was also seen separately by a Social Worker (from Bexley Council) who took her word for it that she was fine and could do everything for herself, and flagged her up for discharge. Had she not had relatives who came in and stopped this happening she may well have been discharged with no care at home or follow up.

Imagine if this had been someone with no relatives. We are very concerned that the Social Worker seemed not to be familiar with the principles of mental capacity assessment, and more concerned with exclusion from services than doing a thorough needs assessment.

Following her transfer to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup she was well cared for, thoroughly medically assessed (including taking her off unnecessary medicines) and her discharge was well organised. The re-ablement team seem good.

As for Bexley Social Services, we believe they are letting older people down and that this needs looking at urgently.

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Update posted by steve8 (a relative)

Still waiting for Bexley Social Services to read this and to respond.

Mum was discharged on 12th August with the promise of a link line, which she needs, despite asking repeatedly for the link line nothing has happened.

Mum has two visit a day which is helping but, we believe, not enough. It is a 6 week period of reablement so hopefully we will have more suitable support at the end.

We have had no contact fro the Social Worker since she left hospital on 12th August.

We find Bexley Social Services shambolic, uncommunicative and inefficient.

Update posted by steve8 (a relative)

Still no response from Bexley social services on this.

We finally aranged for the link line which arrives tomorrow. The referral for this was promised but not made.

In the meantime the reablement team visit twice daily and do thier best, mum is losing weight and now has a formal diagnosis of dementia. We have flagged up the difficulties with only two visits but nothing has changed yet.

The services appear to me to be uncoordinated, shambolic and unsafe,

The services overall remain uncomunicative and shambolic, in our experience. Members of our family have some knowledge of how the system works, despite this we struggle to communicate her needs. I really worry for people who don't know the system. You have to constantly check and challenge and remind people of things about mum which they should all know and share between teams.