National Ombudsmen
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Worcestershire stroke survivor left without support she needed

A Worcestershire woman who had had a stroke was left without appropriate care for 12 months because the county council took too long to set up her direct payments.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has asked the council to pay the woman £3,000 to recognise the distress caused by not having the right care between January 2021, when the woman left hospital, and 2022.

The situation came about after the council referred the woman to Penderels, a company acting on behalf of the council, to help her recruit a personal assistant. However, case notes suggest the woman struggled to fill out financial forms because of her disability. The woman’s social care assessment was finalised in August 2021, setting out the support she needed, but the woman said this was incorrect.

A direct payment agreement was sent to the woman to sign, but she could not do so because of her disability. She was eventually helped to sign, but the council further delayed setting up the payments.

The direct payments had not been set up by the time the Ombudsman started investigating in January 2022. 

The Ombudsman found the council at fault for taking too long to complete the woman’s social care assessment and her care and support plan, and it failed to put in place her direct payments in a timely fashion.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“The council’s failure meant a vulnerable woman with serious health problems was left without funding to meet her essential care needs for more than a year.

“While I appreciate the pressures councils are under, and particularly during the time in question, the delay in this case is unacceptable. I am also concerned the council sought to blame the woman for not co-operating with its officers, when there was no evidence to support this.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from its investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council should apologise to the woman and pay her £3,000 to reflect the impact of the lack of care and support. It should also update the Ombudsman on its progress in putting in place the direct payment.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has been asked to identify other cases where there was a delay in putting in place a direct payment and to remedy any injustice to those affected.

Related Content:  Worcestershire County Council (21 005 339)

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