THE county council was to blame after a care home’s lift was left broken for just over four weeks, leaving residents ‘stranded’, a report has found.

A broken lift at Headington Care Home was left unrepaired in summer 2018, leaving some people living there unable to move from the first floor.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said Four Seasons Health Care, which runs the home, had no ‘adequate plan’ to deal with the lift’s failure ‘promptly enough’.

But it held the council responsible because it had commissioned the care.

The lift had failed four years before it broke again in June 2018 – but Four Seasons did not tell the council about the 2014 failure. The second time, a relative complained that residents were left marooned in rooms that were too hot because of the weather.

On visiting the second time the lift had broken, a council officer said Four Seasons should have installed a back-up stair lift.

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A relative asked the council to ‘apply pressure’ on the company to build a second lift. Their wife could not use the stair lift because of their disability.

They later complained to the ombudsman, complaining the company had ‘refused’ to install a second lift at the Roosevelt Drive home – although they said they had no concerns about the quality of care provided there.

In November 2018, the company told the council it would install a new lift in early 2019. Work on the new lift eventually took place in March.

The ombudsman’s report stated: “The care provider did not have sufficiently robust contingency plans in place to enable it to swiftly deal with the consequences of the lift failure.

“Had it done so it would have allowed it to quickly respond to failure of that lift and minimise the impact of residents unable to access the outside world.”

It took the care home two weeks to put in place food preparation measures and other arrangements.

Those included converting a bedroom for communal use for those who were unable to make their way from the first floor. Additional staff were allocated to help.

The ombudsman concluded it had resulted in ‘avoidable distress’ and told the council to pay a resident £100. It also said it had to make sure Four Seasons has a contingency plan if either lift were to fail.

A council spokesman said: “The county council has cooperated with the Local Government Ombudsman’s investigation and accepted the ombudsman’s decision. The ombudsman requested two actions, both of which have been discharged by the deadline set.”

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Figures available on the county council’s website showed the authority has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to the care provider in recent months. In April, it paid £215,730, £243,667 in May and £223,164 in June.

Four Seasons was contacted to comment.