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South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council (20 009 423)

Category : Adult care services > Domiciliary care

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 02 Jun 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms C complained the homecare provider, commissioned by the Council, left her mother without support from her care workers for 18 hours. We decided to discontinue our investigation, because the injustice that Mrs M actually experienced was not sufficient to justify our continued involvement.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Ms C, complained to us on behalf of her mother, whom I shall call Mrs M. Ms C complained the homecare provider failed to carry out her mother’s afternoon and evening visit on 19 November 2020. As such, she did not receive support from the care workers between 13.10 and 08.15 the next day (18 hours).
  2. Ms C said she made a complaint about this to the care provider and the Council. However, even though both promised to get back to her, neither of them did.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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)
  2. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe the injustice is not significant enough to justify the cost of our involvement (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information I received from Ms C and the Council. I shared a copy of my draft decision with Ms C and the Council and considered any comments I received, before I made my final decision.

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What I found

  1. Ms C told me that the incident happened because the care provider had made a mistake with the rota. It was not a mistake that happened again since.
  2. Furthermore, Ms C explained that while it could have resulted in a very difficult situation for her mother, this did not happen because her mother still received support from Ms C during this time.
  3. The Council has told us that it did not find a record of Ms C’s complaint but is happy to investigate it.


  1. I decided to discontinue my investigation, because the injustice that Mrs M actually experienced, was not sufficient to justify my continued involvement (see paragraph 4 above).

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Final decision

  1. For reasons explained above, I decided to discontinue my investigation.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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