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North East Lincolnshire Council (21 016 788)

Category : Adult care services > Charging

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 30 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about care provided to Ms Y by the Council. This is because parts of the complaint are about events which happened too long ago for us to investigate now. There is also no evidence of fault in how the Council reached its recent decision regarding financial contributions Ms Y was required to make towards her care. The Council has also provided an suitable remedy for significant delays in responding to the complaint.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains on behalf of Ms Y about the standard of care she has received whilst in residential care commissioned by the Council. Mrs X says the Council has also increased the amount of contributions Ms Y has to pay towards her care after she received a backdated award of benefits. Mrs X says Ms Y should not have to pay this due to the poor standard of care she has received.
  2. Mrs X says the Council’s actions have caused the family significant distress and the family have had to provide care for Ms Y when the Council has failed to do so.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating, or we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  2. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  3. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code and Guidance on Remedies.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs X raised a complaint on behalf of Ms Y in September 2020. In her complaint Mrs X raised concerns about issues within Ms Y’s care setting dating back to May 2017 and October 2019. Mrs X was also unhappy that the Council had asked
    Ms Y to pay an increased backdated contribution to her care costs following an award of backdated benefits.
  2. The Council did not respond to the complaint until January 2022. In its response the Council said it would pay the family £500 to acknowledge delays in the “process”. However the Council said there was no evidence of fault in the way care had been provided and declined to disregard the backdated benefit award in relation to Ms Y’s assessed care contributions.
  3. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaints about the standard of care Ms Y received between May 2017 and October 2019. This is because these events happened too long ago for us to be able to carry out an effective investigation. Whilst I appreciate there has been a significant delay in the Council responding to Mrs X’s complaints, Mrs X also delayed raising these issues with the Council.
  4. The Council informed Mrs X of its decision about Ms Y’s care contributions in January 2022 and so we are able to consider this part of the complaint. There is no evidence of fault in how the Council reached its decision about how much
    Ms Y should pay towards the costs of her care. The Council is entitled to consider backdated benefit awards when assessing care contributions.
  5. The Council has accepted there were delays in responding to Mrs X’s complaint. The Council has offered to pay the family £500 to acknowledge the impact this had. This is in line with the Ombudsman’s Guidance on Remedies and there is nothing further we can achieve from investigating this matter.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because:
    • Complaints about standard of care provided relate to events which happened too long ago for us to be able to investigate now.
    • There is no evidence of fault in how the Council assessed Ms Y’s care contributions following a backdated benefits award.
    • The Council has provided a suitable financial remedy for delays in responding to Mrs X’s complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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