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Cheshire West & Chester Council (18 017 272)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complained to the Council the residential home caring for his mother had agreed to backdate a refund of ‘top up’ fees, but then changed its mind. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because the Council has investigated Mr X’s complaint and it is unlikely further investigation by us will lead to a different result.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains the care home looking after his mother agreed to backdate a refund of ‘top up’ fees, but then changed its mind. He says the care home should refund the overpaid ‘top up’ fees, as it originally agreed.

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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’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X gave to the Ombudsman in his complaint. I have also considered the information the Council provided to him.
  2. Mr X had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complained to the Council the care home looking after his mother, Mrs Y, agreed to backdate a refund of ‘top up’ fees but then changed its mind. He says he has an e-mail from the care home stating although they had agreed to backdate the refund they had decided not to.
  2. The Council investigated Mr X’s complaint. It says the care home denies it agreed to backdate the reduction in Mrs Y’s ‘top up’ fee. The Council says the care home provided a copy of a financial statement to support their position.
  3. During the investigation, the Council found it had not applied its procedures properly when offering a care home for Mrs Y.
  4. The Council said it should have paid its contracted rate, and a further payment, because this was the most cost effective way to deal with Mrs Y’s care needs.
  5. The Council agreed to repay Mr X for the period it should have funded Mrs Y’s care costs.

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Analysis

  1. From the evidence I have seen the Council has dealt properly with Mr X’s complaint. It has been unable to find evidence to support his claim the care home agreed to backdate the reduction in Mrs Y’s ‘top up’ fee.
  2. The Council has accepted it was at fault for not calculating its contribution to Mrs Y’s care costs accurately, and has arranged to repay to Mr X the excess costs. It has apologized for the error. This is what the Ombudsman would have recommended from an investigation.
  3. We cannot add to the Council’s investigation and it is unlikely an investigation by us would have a different result.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely an investigation would find fault or add anything to the Council's own investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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