‘Disgusting neglect’: Archway dementia patient’s family win battle over care agency fees

Denis Dowling. Picture: Ann Dowling

Denis Dowling. Picture: Ann Dowling - Credit: Archant

A family of an Archway pensioner have had a £1,700 care bill waived by the council after they complained he’d been neglected by the private agency tasked with looking after him before he died.

Denis Dowling, 75, of Bredgar Road, received domiciliary care from Mayfair Care Agency, a provider approved by the council, between May 8 and November 29 last year. His daughter Ann, 43, says agency workers failed to ensure he took his medication and left tablets lying around the house, didn’t encourage him to eat, left his home messy and clothes unwashed. Staff were supposed to visit four times per day. Denis died from an “unrelated case of pneumonia” in December.

Ann says a safeguarding alert was raised about the suitability of Denis’ care plan after a blood test revealed he hadn’t been taking his medication in July.

In the days leading up to his death, the family were told he’d likely be moving onto a new care package.

“You don’t leave elderly people without medication,” Ann said. “It’s neglectful and it’s disgusting. He had dementia and wasn’t capable of looking after himself and his flat was so untidy.

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“This was never about money in the first place, we have the money to pay but the fact is I don’t see why we should. He was vulnerable and elderly and wasn’t capable of making his own decisions.”

Ann raised 10 complaints about Mayfair with Islington’s social services team.

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“I’m devastated,” she said. “They [Mayfair] have shown no remorse. I’m speaking out for elderly people because it’s not fair and I don’t want other families to go through this stress.”

Watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found multiple “shortfalls” when they inspected the care home a year ago.

The CQC rated the agency as “requires improvement”, observing staff didn’t have “sufficient information or management” to carry out “assessment of risks to health and wellbeing of people using the service”.

Inspectors also noted: “We found numerous issues related to medicines management. The agency’s systems for the management of accidents and incidents were not always followed and there was a risk that the same accidents and incidents could happen again. The agency did not always work within the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and there was a risk that decisions related to people’s everyday care were not made in their best interest or with their consent.”

In response to Ann’s formal complaint, social services said they were “truly sorry” she wasn’t happy with the level of care provided.

They said a contract manager had raised the issue with the firm but “unfortunately Mayfair’s account of events differ to yours in that they believe they did offer high levels of care to [Denis]”.

They added: “On this occasion, as we are unable to complete a review due to passing of Mr Dowling, we will waive off the fees. Rest assured, we will also be asking our monitoring team to monitor the care that is provided by Mayfair Care agency.”

Mayfair managing director Darren Stapelberg said a review had been completed and the firm was satisfied the care team “worked hard to ensure Mr Dowling received the care in line with his assessed needs”.

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