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Lincolnshire County Council (21 014 642)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 17 May 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Council was at fault, as it invoiced for more hours of care than were provided for several reasons. The Council has credited the service user for the hours of care that were not provided and this is a satisfactory remedy to the complaint.

The complaint

  1. Ms X, complains for her father, Mr Y. She complains the care provided by a care company was poor and she would like the Council to waive the entire cost.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 an organisation’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)
  2. If we are satisfied with an organisation’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 read the papers put in by Ms X and discussed the complaint with her.
  2. I considered the Council’s comments about the complaint and any supporting documents it provided.
  3. Ms X and the Council now have an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I will consider their comments before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. After Ms X received an invoice for her dad’s care, she made an official complaint to the Council that the care was inadequate. Ms X complained the carers had poor timekeeping, poor communication, had not remained for the full amount of time set out in the care plan and did not complete all tasks.
  2. The Council investigated and upheld her complaint. The Council reviewed the call time data from the carers which showed that 55 fewer hours of care. The Council credited £927 to Mr Y’s account for the care that was not received, meaning that he owed £1100 rather than £2000 for his care. The Council apologised for the stress caused to Ms X and her family.
  3. Ms X has complained to the Ombudsman as she wants to contest the remaining £1100 charge.
  4. I have considered all the evidence. The Council accepts it was at fault, has apologised, upheld the complaint and provided a financial remedy. But, Ms X says she wants the Council to remove the remaining charge.
  5. I can see the care provided to Mr Y was not as it should have been. But Mr Y did receive care and the Ombudsman accepts that service users should pay for their care. From the information I have seen, the Council has found a satisfactory way to calculate a refund for the inadequate care and I do not consider that further investigation would provide a greater financial remedy for Ms X. The remedy has already been provided for visits that were shorter than the correct time, not carried out at the correct time and not staying while Mr Y ate his lunch. The care givers did visit and provide care to Mr Y, so while it is reasonable for the Council to not charge for times when care was not provided, I do not consider the extra points raised, such as failure to put out a bin bag and failure to carry urine sample tubes, are enough to warrant a further financial remedy.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation and uphold Ms X's complaint. There was fault by the Council which caused injustice to Mr Y. I am satisfied the Council has taken action to remedy that injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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