Decision : Not upheld
Decision date : 27 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Miss X complains the Council has not provide adequate assistance to help her move nearer her family or ensure adequate night provision in case of a medical emergency. Miss X’s social worker is working with her to identify alternative accommodation in her preferred area. It has also made contingency arrangements if an emergency should occur at night. There is no evidence of fault in the Council’s actions.
- Miss X complains the Council has not provided adequate assistance to help her move nearer her family and has failed to make provision at night in case of a medical emergency.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- As part of the investigation, I have:
- considered the complaint and the documents provided by the complainant;
- made enquiries of the Council and considered the comments and documents the Council provided;
- discussed the issues with the complainant;
- sent my draft decision to both the Council and the complainant and taken account of their comments before making my final decision.
What I found
- Miss X suffers from several medical conditions including spina bifida, hydrocephalus (with a shunt to the brain) stage two respiratory failure, vocal cord palsy and paralysis of the legs. She has a care plan and carers visit five times a day to help with her care needs.
- Miss X lives on her own. She says her family and friends live in the Essex area and so she wants to move there to be nearer to them. Miss X has considered moving into more supported accommodation due to her needs. She has concerns about how she would cope in an emergency at night because as carers are not present at night.
- The Council carried out a review of Miss X’s care needs in October 2018 and provided an updated care plan in December 2018. The Council found Miss X did not have night time care needs.
- Miss X asked the Council to provide assistance should an emergency occur during the night. The Council says Miss X should phone 999 and seek emergency medical assistance. Miss X sleeps on a pressure mattress and the Council has provided her with a 24 hour helpline number for the company that provides medical equipment if any of it should malfunction. The Council has also told Miss X she can contact is Adult Care Out of Hours service if she has any other queries.
- Miss X has also been asking for help to move. Miss X lives independently and reports feeling isolated. She has considered moving into a more supported housing environment, preferably in Essex nearer her family and support.
- The Council says it identified a suitable supported living scheme Miss X could move into in Derbyshire. It said this could be an interim move until a permanent move to Essex can be found. To date, Miss X has not asked to be moved to this accommodation.
- Following the review of her care needs, Miss X’s social worker has been working with her regarding a move to Essex. The social worker has contacted adult social care in Essex, approached housing offices about making an application for social housing and used the Care Quality Commission website to find suitable housing schemes. The Council has also suggested Miss X could look into private housing options. Miss X cancelled an appointment with the social worker to complete a housing application form as she was visiting family in Essex. The social worker suggested she could make the application in person while she was in the area.
- I appreciate Miss X has serious health issues and that she wants to ensure she is safe and has appropriate support around her. The Council completed a review of her care needs in December 2018. This did not identify any eligible night time needs and Miss X has not raised any complaint about how the review was carried out.
- Miss X complains the Council has not done enough to provide support should she have an emergency at night. The Council says it has supported her to put in place contingency plans should an emergency occur at night. This includes what to do if there is a medical emergency or a problem with the medical equipment she uses.
- I appreciate Miss X would prefer to have someone in the property she could call upon if an emergency occurs. However, the Council’s view is that Miss X does not have night time care needs except in an emergency when the appropriate response is to call 999. It says to reduce her anxiety it has offered assistance to move to a supported housing scheme.
- I am satisfied the Council has considered Miss X’s night time care needs and used its professional judgement to determine was support is required. While this falls short of Miss X’s preferred outcome, I am not persuaded there is fault in how the Council reached this decision so I will not criticise it.
- Miss X also complains the Council has not helped her move to Essex to be near her family and friends. The information provided shows that Miss X’s social worker has been working with her on this issue and will continue to do so. I am satisfied this is what the Council is required to do. There is no statutory duty on the Council to provide alternative accommodation in another area. The Council is helping her and if new accommodation is provided I would expect it to work with the new authority to ensure there is continuity of care.
- I am satisfied the Council is helping Miss X in respect of a move and cannot conclude there is any fault in respect of this part of the complaint.
- I will now complete my investigation as there is no evidence of fault.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman