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London Borough of Bromley (18 016 782)

Category : Adult care services > Other

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 17 Oct 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr B has complained about the handling of his daughter C’s adult care review and the lack of one-to-one provision for her for late night access to the community. The Ombudsman considers that the provision of an additional five hours one-to-one support to C and the apology given to Mr B are suitable remedies for the injustice caused to them.

The complaint

  1. Mr B complains that the Council has wrongly refused funding to meet his daughter C’s need to go out to enjoy social activities outside her supported residential accommodation after 9.30pm. Instead it considers that C should herself fund any support that she requires and rely on the goodwill of staff.
  2. Mr B considers that, as an adult, C should be able to engage in social activities, independently of her parents, but she is not able to do so without funding to support this.
  3. Mr B also complains that the Council did not circulate C’s review to him or respond in a timely manner to his correspondence on these matters

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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. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mr B’s written complaint and supporting correspondence and discussed his complaint with him. I have made enquiries of the Council and considered its response, including copies of correspondence and C’s care records. I have had regard to the Care Act 2014 and the Care Act Guidance. I have also sent Mr B and the Council a draft decision and considered their comments.

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What I found

Legal and administrative background

Assessment

  1. Sections 9 and 10 of the Care Act 2014 require local authorities to carry out an assessment for any adult with an appearance of need for care and support. The assessment must be of the adult’s needs and how they impact on their wellbeing and the outcomes they want to achieve. It must also involve the individual and, where suitable, their carer or any other person they might want involved.
  2. The Council must carry out the assessment over a suitable and reasonable timescale considering the urgency of needs and any variation in those needs.
  3. Local authorities should tell the individual when their assessment will take place and keep the person informed throughout the assessment.

Care plan

  1. The Act gives local authorities a legal responsibility to provide a care and support plan (or a support plan for a carer). The plan should consider what the person has, what they want to achieve, what they can do by themselves or with existing support and what care and support may be available in the local area.

Personal budgets

  1. Everyone whose needs the local authority meets must receive a personal budget as part of the care and support plan. The personal budget gives the person clear information about the money allocated to meet the needs identified in the assessment and recorded in the plan. The personal budget must always be an amount enough to meet the person’s care and support needs.

What happened

  1. C is a young woman with a learning disability, communication impairment and some physical disabilities which make it difficult for her to live independently. C has a range of eligible identified needs, one of which is “making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services”.
  2. C previously had a supported living placement. However, as her previous accommodation was to be sold, she moved to a residential care home providing 24-hour supported living in January 2017. C was allocated a personal budget to cover the cost of her placement. This included 13 hours a week of one-to-one support to support her community access.
  3. In November 2017, the Council undertook a care review. This included input from her father and from the care provider. The Council completed the review in February 2018 and agreed to continue the current care package.
  4. The reviewing officer noted that Mr B had raised concerns that there would be no support available for C should she wish to stay out after 10.00pm. She explained that he or someone else could collect her later if he wanted, but C would have to contribute towards the cost of such arrangements.
  5. The completed review was sent to C in March 2018, but Mr B did not receive a copy until May. He then wrote to the Council with some corrections. He also reiterated his view that C should have the opportunity to access the community after 9.30pm if she wished.
  6. The reviewing officer accepted that C should be able to attend activities after 9.30pm and hoped that the provider could provide some flexibility. However, she also explained that staff at the residential home usually finished their shifts at 10.00pm and that support hours were shared by residents in the evening. She explained that C could be provided with support for a late-night event but that she would have to pay for this as the Council would not double fund.
  7. There was further correspondence on this, and the Care Review was amended to reflect Mr B’s and the reviewing officer’s comments. However, the Care Manager upheld the Council’s position. She also noted that C had a full and active timetable of activities, was tired in the evening and regularly asked to go to bed shortly after 9.00pm.
  8. Mr B contacted the Council again in October 2018 and repeated his request for late-night one-to-one support. The Council responded in January 2019 and explained that its position remained the same, and that it was not clear that Mr B’s position reflected his daughter’s wishes.
  9. Following a complaint to the Ombudsman, the Council reviewed the situation. It contacted Mr B, reviewed his result and responded to his concerns as follows:
    • It apologised for the failure to circulate the review and for the time taken to respond to his correspondence.
    • It explained that, at the time of his complaint, the service provider was unable to facilitate one-to-one activity after 9.00pm but could support occasional group activities after 10.00pm
    • The situation has since changed and the service provider now has night-time staff available to welcome back and settle residents at night, so C can go out with family and the home can accommodate this.
    • The Council has also agreed to provide an additional five hours of one-to-one support a month for C to go out after 9.30pm, should she wish.
    • The further support will be subject to review in January and June 2020.

My assessment

Delay

  1. There was delay in circulating the review papers to Mr B. These should have been sent to Mr B in order to allow him to comment before the review was signed off. The Council has apologised for this, and for the delay responding to Mr B’s correspondence, but it should also remind officers of the need to circulate papers to all relevant parties.

One-to-one support

  1. It seems to me that it is a reasonable request for a young woman to be able to access the community in the evening independently from her parents. I note that the Council accepted this in principle last year but, for several reasons, did not explore this further. The Council accepts that it should have investigated this request more fully when it was raised by Mr B, and has apologised for this.
  2. As to whether the Council has failed to meet an identified eligible need, the Council does not consider that to be the case because C had not herself expressed a wish to go out late. However, her father had pointed out that this may be because she had become used to the hours within the residential accommodation.
  3. The Council was at fault in not looking further into Mr B’s request last year. On balance, however, I do not consider that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that the Council has failed to meet an identified eligible need, because it is not clear that C herself wanted additional support to go out later in the evening.

Agreed action

  1. I consider that the apologies provided and additional support offered are a suitable response to the injustice caused to C and Mr B.
  2. The Council has also reminded officers of the need to ensure that completed documentation relating to assessments and reviews is circulated to families, carers and care providers where appropriate.

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Final decision

  1. I have closed my investigation into Mr B’s complaint because I consider that the remedies agreed represent a suitable response to the injustice caused to C and Mr B.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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