The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X complained on behalf of his late mother about the sort of room she was given in the care home where she lived and the way it assessed her financial contribution to the home’s charges. He considered the room was not suitable and that she had been overcharged. There was fault by the Council in its communication with Mr X for which it will apologise.
- I call the complainant Mr X. He complained on behalf of his late mother about the sort of room she was given in the care home and the way it assessed her financial contribution to the home’s charges. He considered the room was not suitable and that she had been overcharged
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the complaint and documents provided by Mr X and spoke to him. I asked the Council to comment on the complaint and provide information. I sent a draft of this statement to Mr X and the Council and considered their comments.
What I found
- Mr X’s mother, Mrs Y, moved into residential care in 2015. Mr X was Mrs Y’s deputy and he did not consider that she needed to go into residential care. So the decision was made by an order of the Court of Protection. Mrs Y had a tenancy of a flat. That remained the case until she died in May 2020.
- Mr X complained to the Council in February 2020 about the fees for the home. The Council responded saying it was considering the matter and would respond within ten working days. It did not do so.
- Mr X contacted us and we referred the matter back to the Council. It replied to Mr X in September. It said it had cancelled the contribution to the fees and there was nothing outstanding.
- It was fault the Council did not reply to Mr X as it had undertaken to do in the letter in February 2020. It was only when prompted by us that the Council wrote to Mr X explaining it had written off all the outstanding fees. The Council will apologise to Mr X for the delay but no further action is necessary as the writing off of the fees is a satisfactory outcome.
- I have seen nothing to suggest Mr X raised a formal complaint with the Council about the size of the room. I understand Mr X fundamentally disagreed with the placement of his mother there but those decisions were made by the Court of Protection. There is nothing here that I can consider further.
- The Council will, within a month of the decision, apologise to Mr X for failing to inform him of its decision about the care home fees.
- There was fault by the Council in its communication with Mr X.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman