Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 28 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr A’s complaint about the actions of his mother’s, Mrs B’s, social worker. This is because he could not add to the Council’s response of make a finding of the kind Mr A wants. The Ombudsman is satisfied an apology remedies any injustice to Mr A and Mrs B.
- Mr A says his mother’s Mrs B’s, social worker misled her and made derogatory about him. Mr A says he has two tape recordings of the comments made by the care provider telling him that it did not tell a social worker that his step-father, Mr B, who lived in a care home, loved and missed Mrs B. Mr A says the misleading comments have affected Mrs B both mentally and physically. In addition, Mr A complains the same social worker said he had a vendetta against his step-sister. Mr A says the Council should take action against the social worker.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We cannot investigate a complaint if it is about a personnel issue. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5a, paragraph 4, as amended)
- 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’. 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:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
- the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.
(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information and documentation Mr A and the Council provided. I sent Mr A a copy of my draft decision and considered his comments on it.
What I found
- Mr A is unhappy with the comments made by Mrs B’s social worker and wants the Council to take further action rather than just apologising but not accepting fault.
- The Council’s response to Mr A’s complaint say it contacted the social worker in question who explained a Manager in Mr B’s home said he kept a photograph of Mrs B by his bedside. Her impression was that Mr B, despite being apart from Mrs B for so long and having cognitive difficulties, retained affection for her. The social worker advised Mrs B of this and asked her if she wanted to visit him, which she declined.
- The Council response says it is aware the current Manager of the home refuted the conversation or giving the information to the social worker. The Council says the social worker was clear on what she had been told but apologised if the comments had caused Mrs B and Mr A distress.
- The Council has apologised and the Ombudsman could not achieve any more than this even if he investigated.
- Mr A says the social worker said he had a vendetta against his step-sister. The Council response says the social worker did not recall saying this and did not believe there was a vendetta. The social worker apologised if this had been perceived. The Ombudsman could not make a finding on comments made when he was not there or add to the Council’s response. The Council has apologised and the Ombudsman could not achieve any more than this even if he investigated.
- Mr A says he has two tape recordings from conversations he had with a staff member and the Manager of the home disputing that it told Mrs B’s social worker that Mr B missed her. These recordings are not in dispute, however, there is no recording of the conversation Mrs B’s social worker had with staff and no amount of investigation could make a finding on this point. The Council has apologised if the comments caused offence and the Ombudsman is satisfied this remedies any injustice to Mr A and Mrs B.
- Mr A says the Council should take action against the social worker. The Ombudsman cannot tell council’s how to manage staff or investigate personnel matters.
- The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because he could not add to the Council’s response of make a finding of the kind Mr A wants. The Ombudsman is satisfied an apology remedies any injustice to Mr A and Mrs B.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman