Council leaves vulnerable Norfolk man without enough care before he died
A Norfolk woman was left to care for an elderly vulnerable friend for months before he died while the county council delayed meeting his care, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The woman had said she was happy to provide some care for her friend, who had dementia and a number of physical health conditions, but repeatedly told social workers she could not do it alone.
The council assessed the man as needing a significant amount of support, but could not decide how that care should be provided. Instead, while it tried to decide on the most cost-effective package for the man, the council failed to provide appropriate care, and relied on the man’s friend to help care for him over and above what she was paid to provide.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for failing to:
- provide a night sitting service
- provide a day sitting service between April and mid-June 2019
- provide morning and evening care visits
- recognise the extent to which the friend was supporting the man
- put support in place for the friend as a carer
- comply with the Care Act in relation to the man’s care needs
- propose suitable alternatives to the care the man was receiving
- explain the reasoning behind the charge for the respite stay to the man or his friend
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, yesterday said:
“This man was clearly vulnerable and had numerous assessed care and support needs, yet Norfolk council did not meet them. It initially failed to implement plans that had been agreed, before going on to leave the man without an agreed plan altogether.
“Councils are entitled to weigh up the cost of a proposed care package and to look at more economic options when deciding what to provide. But cost should not be the primary consideration – and councils should not leave people without the care they need while deferring decisions. In this case the council continually questioned the cost of providing the care package in his own home, where he wanted to remain, without proposing suitable alternatives.
“All this left the man’s friend feeling she had no option but to provide more hours of care for him than she wanted to, or was being paid for, and this placed a significant strain on their relationship.
“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and welcome the steps it has already taken to improve its services.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the woman and pay her £2,000 to acknowledge the increased strain she was placed under by the council’s faults and to acknowledge the unpaid care she provided that was part of his assessed needs.
It will also refund the man’s estate the expense of funding his own eligible care needs – estimated at around £4,000.
The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to review its procedures to ensure carers are offered separate carers’ assessments and record the outcome. It will also amend its current procedure to ensure current needs will be met in cases where its funding panel defers or refuses decisions on recommended care packages.
Latest News from
Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill laid in Parliament05/12/2016 12:37:21
A new complaints body will provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard.
Woman left to die alone in Surrey care home24/03/2021 09:15:00
An elderly woman was left to die alone by Surrey care home staff while her daughter was waiting in a nearby room, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Ombudsman issues guide for dealing with children’s statutory complaints18/03/2021 16:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is today launching a new guide to help local authorities handle complaints under the children’s services statutory complaints process.
Council agrees to refund care costs for some people in short-term residential care16/03/2021 13:25:00
Lincolnshire County Council has agreed to refund some people it charged for short-term residential care following an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
Council fails to investigate children’s services complaints properly12/03/2021 14:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Isle of Wight Council for failing to properly investigate a mother’s complaint about the way it removed her disabled son’s personal budget.
Boy with Special Educational Needs missed out on education and support because of council errors10/03/2021 12:05:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has asked London Borough of Redbridge to audit all children who receive Special Educational Needs provision at a borough school after the council left a boy without the support he needed for more than two years.
Man denied Human Rights because of council delay04/03/2021 14:15:00
Nottinghamshire County Council left a man in a care home away from his family for five months, without having any regard for his basic human rights, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found.
Cornwall care cost calculations criticised03/03/2021 09:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is reminding councils that people can spend their money as they wish, within reason, when paying for their own care, after an investigation found faults with the way Cornwall Council assessed a man’s finances.