Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 29 Nov 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Ms B complains the Council’s offer of £250 for delay in carrying out her occupational therapy assessment is inadequate compensation given she was unable to access her bathroom, toilet and bedroom unaided and this denied her independence and dignity. As the Council has now increased its offer to £600, and this is viewed as a fair and reasonable way of settling the complaint, we will not pursue it any further.
- Ms B complains the Council’s offer of £250 for delay between January and October 2017 in carrying out her occupational therapy (OT) assessment is inadequate compensation given she was unable to access her bathroom, toilet and bedroom unaided and this denied her independence and dignity.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- 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
- In considering the complaint I spoke to Ms B and reviewed the information she and the Council provided. Both Ms B and the Council were given the opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- At the beginning of January 2017 Ms B, who is disabled, applied for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) because mobility problems meant she was having difficulty accessing her bedroom, bathroom and toilet. The Council told her that before she could apply for a DFG she would need to have an OT assessment. At the time, there was a waiting time of 4 months for the required OT assessment.
- Due to a technical error, Ms B’s name did not generate onto the OT waiting list. She contacted the Council at the end of October 2017 to chase up the assessment and at this point the Council discovered its error and allocated her case immediately and an assessment was completed 2 days later.
- The assessment acknowledged Ms B was having difficulties with bed and bath transfers and that she had mobility difficulties with the stairs and use of the toilet when her condition flared up. The assessment noted Ms B was considering changing her bed to assist with bed transfers and that she said could maintain a level of independence using the toilet and with personal hygiene. The OT provided Ms B with some equipment to assist her and made referrals to the Major Adaptations Unit, Hand Therapy and Physiotherapy.
- Subsequently, and as Ms B’s condition worsened, the Council carried out two further assessments where major adaptations to her home were recommended.
- Ms B complained to the Council about its delay in carrying out the OT assessment. It acknowledged its error in failing to place her on the waiting list and offered her £250 in recognition of its fault.
- Dissatisfied with the offer, Ms B complained to the Ombudsman about the delay in carrying out the October 2017 assessment. In response to our enquiries, the Council offered Ms B £600 to settle the complaint. It also outlined the changes it has made to its procedures to prevent delays in the future allocation of cases to the waiting list.
- The Council’s fault in failing to add Ms B to the waiting list for an OT assessment is not disputed. The technical error meant that she had to wait five months longer for the initial assessment than she would have if no fault had occurred.
- The Council has increased its offer of compensation in recognition of its fault to £600 and this is a fair and reasonable way of settling the complaint, taking into account the OT’s assessment of Ms B’s position at the time the October assessment was carried out.
- The Council will pay Ms B £600 within four weeks of the date of this decision.
- As the Council has now increased its offer to £600, and this is viewed as a fair and reasonable way of settling the complaint, we will not pursue it any further.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman