Salford City Council (20 011 388)

Category : Adult care services > COVID-19

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 19 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We shall not currently investigate Mrs X’s complaint about her late father’s care. This is because the Council is still investigating a related safeguarding complaint. Mrs X can come back to us once the Council has dealt with that matter.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains the care provider arranged by the Council did not look after her father properly at the end of his life and was not honest with her family. This has caused her avoidable distress.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. Where an individual, organisation or private company is providing services on behalf of a council, we can investigate complaints about the actions of these providers. (Local Government Act 1974, section 25(7), as amended)
  2. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided and copy correspondence and information the Council sent me. I gave Mrs X the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X’s father, Mr Y, was in a care home the Council had arranged for him. As paragraph 2 explained, we therefore consider the Council ultimately responsible for the care home’s actions and omissions regarding Mr Y’s care, as the care home acted on the Council’s behalf.
  2. Very sadly, Mr Y died in the care home after catching COVID-19. Mrs X was dissatisfied with some aspects of her father’s care so she took two steps:
      1. Complaining to the care home.
      2. Making a safeguarding referral to the Council.
  3. Once the care home finished dealing with her complaint (it upheld some but not all of Mrs X’s points), Mrs X complained to us.
  4. Meanwhile, the Council completed a safeguarding investigation. The Council told me Mrs X then complained to the Council about that safeguarding investigation. The Council is still dealing with that complaint and intends to reply to Mrs X by 19 April 2021.
  5. The Council has two responsibilities here: it arranged Mr Y’s care and it is the safeguarding authority.
  6. The complaint about the Council’s safeguarding investigation is evidently closely connected to the complaint about Mr Y’s care, since both matters arose from Mrs X’s concerns about the same events. If we were to decide now whether to investigate Mrs X’s complaint, we would be making that decision without the benefit of seeing the Council’s response to the complaint about its safeguarding actions. In the circumstances, it is preferable to wait for the Council to finish dealing with the complaint about its safeguarding. That way, when we decide whether to investigate Mrs X’s complaint, our decision will be based on a fuller understanding of the Council’s and care home’s actions regarding both care provision and safeguarding. So I shall not take further action on the complaint currently.
  7. I emphasise that we are not seeking to avoid considering Mrs X’s complaint. Rather we are proposing only to consider the complaint once fuller information is available. Mrs X can contact us again once the Council replies to the safeguarding complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We shall not investigate this complaint yet. This is because it would be more effective to consider the complaint once we also have the Council’s response on the safeguarding matter.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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