Leicestershire County Council (19 021 212)

Category : Adult care services > Assessment and care plan

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 30 Sep 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council missed opportunities to explain to Ms B why it had not completed the review of her adult social care package, and why it needed to do a reassessment. The Council failed to complete follow up actions it promised. Because of this it has not completed the reassessment and has failed to support Ms B with a housing application as promised. The Council’s actions have caused confusion, and left Ms B feeling alone and vulnerable. The Council will apologise, complete the reassessment and any support with the housing application as soon as possible.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Ms B, says the Council completed an annual review of her care needs in August 2019, spending 1.5 hours gathering information. Three months later, a Council officer came to her house unannounced. Ms B did not answer so the officer visited her daughter and said they needed to complete a review. The Council said the earlier review was not valid but will not explain why. The Council has threatened to remove her money and support. A male worker contacted Ms B to complete a telephone review, despite her asking for female workers only. Ms B’s daughter has moved away. Ms B feels alone and scared and says the Council’s actions have impacted her mental health. The Council said it would help her move closer to her daughter but has failed to do so.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  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. I considered information provided by Ms B and the Council. I considered the Care Act 2014 and associated statutory guidance.
  2. Ms B and the Council had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. Ms B lives alone; she is vulnerable due to historic abuse. Ms B receives care from her daughter, funded by direct payments provided by the Council. Ms B’s daughter used to live close by but moved further away. This left Ms B feeling alone and vulnerable, as she has problems with her neighbours.
  2. In 2018 the Council started the annual review of Ms B’s care and support package, as required by the Care Act. The review was substantially complete as Ms B had filled in a self-assessment, and an officer had visited. Ms B asked for help with moving closer to her daughter. The Council could not help with this through the review process so said it would do a full reassessment.
  3. The Council tried to complete the reassessment, but never did so. It spoke with Ms B’s daughter who queried the need for it when it had already completed a review. The Council said it would check, but never did. A few months later this was repeated when the Council tried to do the reassessment and Ms B’s daughter queried why. The Council never explained why it did not complete the review, and that the reassessment was needed instead because through that process it could help with supporting the house move.
  4. Although Ms B says the Council came unannounced to do the reassessment, the Council has provided evidence it sent letters to arrange appointments. It is possible Ms B did not receive these, and it was distressing when the officer turned up, but that is not fault of the Council.
  5. I have seen no evidence the Council threatened to remove Ms B’s care and support. Ms B’s daughter has continued to support her throughout, so her care and support needs are met.
  6. There has been poor communication by the Council, and it has not completed follow up actions it has promised. This has resulted in the Council failing to complete a review or reassessment since 2018. This means the Council has failed to support Ms B with her house move as she asked for, and it promised to do through the reassessment process. The Council got Ms B’s consent to contact third parties such as her GP to help with supporting her house move, but never then took that action.
  7. The Council has contacted Ms B to complete this year’s review/reassessment. Unfortunately, the officer could not complete the planned telephone call and asked a male colleague to do it in her absence. This caused Ms B upset as she has asked for female workers only. The Council apologised and agreed to rearrange with a female member of staff. The Council has amended its systems to make such requests clearer on the case file and avoid future problems.
  8. Ms B says the Council’s failings have impacted her mental health.

Agreed action

  1. I commend the Council for the action it has taken to amend its systems to make requests clearer, such as female workers only. This should prevent future problems. To acknowledge the impact on Ms B for the identified failings in this statement, the Council will:
      1. Apologise to Ms B for failing to explain why it did not complete the review, and that a reassessment was needed to help support her house move. The Council should apologise for missing opportunities to clarify this when Ms B’s daughter asked questions; it is clear Ms B thought the review was complete in 2019. The Council should apologise for not completing follow up actions it had promised, and specifically the follow up it recorded after meeting Ms B’s daughter in November 2019, and her request for written information in February 2020. The Council should apologise for contacts by male workers.
      2. The Council says it is actively engaged with Ms B. If it has not already done so, the Council should contact Ms B as soon as possible to arrange a reassessment. The Council should advise of any support it can give regarding helping Ms B to move and take that action without delay.
  2. The Council should complete these actions within one month of this decision, and provide evidence of its compliance to the Ombudsman.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation on the basis the agreed actions, and actions already taken by the Council, are sufficient to acknowledge the impact on Ms B and to prevent future problems.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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