Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (16 008 139)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 20 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr C complains about a debt the Council says was owed by his late father’s estate for care home fees from 2011. The Ombudsman has discontinued the investigation as the Council has agreed to write off the debt.

The complaint

  1. Mr C complains about the Council’s request that he pays off a debt on his father’s estate relating to care home fees. He says the Council did not follow the correct procedures before it decided that his father had to pay the fees.

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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 provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(7), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the documents sent by Mr C and the Council.

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What I found

  1. Mr C’s father, Mr D, was in hospital from March to May 2011. He was discharged from hospital into a care home with assistance from the Council. He died in September 2011 and the Council started to pursue Mr C, who was the executor of Mr D’s estate for a debt relating to the care home fees.
  2. Mr C says:
    • The Council did not carry out the appropriate assessment of his father’s needs or assessed whether he was eligible for NHS funding.
    • The Council did not carry out a financial assessment.
    • The Council did not inform him or Mr D about the fees and did not obtain their agreement to pay the fees.
    • The Council never responded to his complaint about the fees.
  3. The Council says it no longer has some of the paperwork relating to Mr D as it is too long ago. It acknowledges that it never responded to Mr C’s complaint and accepts that this matter would have caused Mr C distress following his father’s death.
  4. It agreed to apologise to Mr C and write off the debt.
  5. The complaint relates to events seven years, the Council no longer has all the relevant documents and has agreed to apologise and write off the debt. I am therefore of the view that a further investigation would not add anything and I have discontinued the investigation.

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Final decision

  1. I have discontinued the investigation as the Council has agreed to waive the debt and apologise.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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