Blackburn with Darwen Council (20 004 504)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 16 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council’s offer to reimburse the overpayment by Mr X to the care provider while Mrs Y was still a full-cost payer remedies any outstanding injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall refer to as Mr X, complains his late mother (Mrs Y) has been overcharged for her residential care home placement. He complains the Council commissioned this placement and agreed with the care home that his mother would pay a higher weekly rate than the Council had previously negotiated for itself.

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What I have investigated

  1. I have investigated the complaint set out above. Mr X knows he can make a complaint to the Ombudsman about the care provider’s charges in respect of the period of time when Mrs Y funded her own care.

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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 the information provided by the Council and by Mr X. I spoke to Mr X. Both Mr X and the Council had the opportunity to comment on an earlier draft of this statement before I reached a final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X has previously complained to the Ombudsman about the weekly rate for his mother’s care home. This investigation concluded Mrs Y’s family had overpaid £12, 488.38 for Mrs Y’s care for the period August 2018 to 1 April 2019. The Council has refunded this overpayment.
  2. Mr X now complains that the care home continued to overcharge Mrs Y until her death in June 2020. He states Mrs Y was overcharged by £3,104.97 between 1 April 2019 and mid May 2019, and then by £60 each week for the following 56 weeks.
  3. Mrs Y funded her own care from 14 May 2019 after a Court of Protection hearing on that date decided it was in her best interests to remain at the care home.
  4. The Council says it was unaware the care provider had continued to charge Mrs Y at the higher rate for the period between 1 April 2019 and 14 May 2019.
  5. The Council now offers to meet Mr X to discuss a refund of the amount overpaid between 1 April 2019 and 14 May 2019.

Agreed action

  1. Within one month of my final decision the Council will arrange to meet Mr X to resolve the outstanding overpayment.

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Final decision

  1. There was fault on the part of the Council in failing to oversee the charges until the Court of Protection hearing, but completion of the actions outlined at paragraph 11 will remedy any outstanding injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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