Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council (18 010 125)

Category : Adult care services > Assessment and care plan

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 09 Jan 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr D complained that the council declined his application for a carers grant, despite receiving one the previous year. However, we have not found fault with the Council’s actions.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, to whom I shall refer to as Mr D, complains about the Council’s decision not to grant him a carers grant. He says the Council had deemed him eligible for a grant the previous year, and that he was still providing the same level of care.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. As part of the investigation, I have:
    • considered the complaint; and
    • reviewed and considered information received from the council; and
    • considered the relevant legislation; and
    • discussed the complaint with Mr D.
  2. I also sent a draft version of this decision to both parties, and invited their comments.

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What I found

  1. The Care Act 2014 states that carers are entitled to a carers assessment to identify if they are eligible for support. When determining eligibility, Councils must consider three conditions;
    • Is the carer providing necessary care to a person? Providing ‘necessary care’ means meeting needs for care and support the adult is not capable of meeting themselves.
    • As a result of their caring responsibilities, is the carers physical or mental health deteriorating, or is it at risk of doing so? Councils must consider whether the carer is unable to achieve a range of outcomes in the eligibility criteria.
    • As a consequence of being unable to achieve these outcomes, is there or is there likely to be, a significant impact on the carers wellbeing?

Key events

  1. Mr D provides care for his mother, who has a number of health problems and currently resides in Extra Care Sheltered Accommodation.
  2. In 2017, Mr D completed a carers assessment. He said that he was caring for both his mother and father, and that he was carrying out a range of duties which included the preparation of meals, escorting them to appointments and managing their finances.
  3. Mr D said that providing this care meant that he was unable to achieve a number of outcomes for himself, which negatively affected his mental and physical health, and subsequently had a significant impact on his wellbeing. These outcomes included eating healthily and maintaining a social life.
  4. The Council concluded that Mr D met all three conditions mentioned in the Care Act (Paragraph 5), and that his mental and physical health was deteriorating. It therefore concluded he was eligible for a grant of £250.
  5. In 2018, Mr D completed a further carer assessment. Sadly, his father had since passed away, however he said he was still providing care for his mother. He said that he helped her with her meals, cleaning, escorting her to appointments and taking her for dinner once a week.
  6. Mr D said that providing care for his mother was still negatively impacting a number of outcomes, but he said that this wasn’t, or wasn’t likely to, impact his wellbeing. Mr D also recorded that his physical or mental health was not deteriorating, or at risk of doing so.
  7. The Council concluded that Mr D was not eligible for a grant. It said that although Mr D did have difficulties with some areas of his life, these difficulties did not significantly impact his health and wellbeing.
  8. In response to complaints from Mr D and his local MP, the Council said that Mr D’s circumstances had changed between 2017 & 2018, because his mother had moved into Extra Care Sheltered Accommodation, and his father had passed away.
  9. Mr D told the Ombudsman that his mother was already living in Extra Care Sheltered Accommodation in 2017, when his previous application for a grant was approved.

Analysis

  1. It is clear that Mr D is unhappy with the Councils decision to decline his application for a grant. He says that the level of care he provides is the same as in 2017, when the Council decided he was eligible for a grant.
  2. Although the Council was incorrect in saying Mr D’s mother had moved into residential care since his last assessment, it appears that it did consider other factors which it concluded impacted the level of care that Mr D provides. This included the fact that Mr D now only provides care for one parent.
  3. The Council took the level of care that it assessed Mr D was providing into consideration when assessing his eligibility for a grant. It also considered other information, including Mr D’s own admission that providing care wasn’t impacting his wellbeing or physical or mental health. It made this assessment in accordance with the Care Act 2014, therefore I have not found fault with its actions.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation with a finding of no fault with the way the Council assessed Mr D’s eligibility for a carers grant.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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