Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 29 Mar 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: On the evidence currently available, we will not investigate Mrs B’s complaint about the Council’s safeguarding investigations regarding her daughter and about not having enough respite care. This is because the complaint is late and there are no good reasons to exercise discretion to accept it now. There is also no evidence Mrs B has complained to the Council about the lack of respite care she is getting.
- Mrs B complains of the Council’s poor communication regarding her daughter’s safeguarding investigation and another safeguarding concern which she says was not investigated. She also complains about not receiving enough respite care. Mrs B says this has affected her and her daughter’s quality of life. She would like further information on the safeguarding investigation that took place and on another safeguarding concern she raised. She would also like to know why the Council is not considering their needs for respite care and would like it to apologise to her daughter.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- The law says that, before investigating a complaint, we must normally be satisfied the Council knows about the complaint and has had an opportunity to investigate and to reply. Usually we expect people to have exhausted complaints procedures before we consider whether to investigate their complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(5), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mrs B provided with her complaint which included a final response from the Council. Mrs B had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of this decision. I considered any comments Mrs B made before making a final decision.
What I found
- Mrs B says in July 2019, her daughter was scalded with a luke-warm drink whilst under the care of the provider. This was investigated as a safeguarding concern. Mrs B says it was not explained to her how her daughter was injured and complained to the Council in September 2019. The Council investigated the complaint and responded to Mrs B in January 2020.
- Mrs B also raised her concern about another incident which she says was not investigated. She said she witnessed a member of staff shouting at her daughter and the outcome concluded that based on various witness statements, her daughter was being supported appropriately by staff. The social worker e-mailed Mrs B in June 2019 and Mrs B responded she had no faith in the safeguarding system. Due to this, the Council did not log her complaint under safeguarding procedures and did not investigate it.
- In addition, Mrs B says she is not getting enough respite care. Mrs B says this has been assessed by a social worker and has been given 46 nights a year but believes she needs 56 nights a year. There is no evidence that shows Mrs B has complained to the Council about this matter.
- We will not start an investigation for the following reasons:
- Mrs B complained to the Council’s Social Services in September 2019 and received an outcome in January 2020. It has been more than 12 months since she became aware of the issues she complains of and there is no evidence which indicates she has been pursuing the matter since. There are no good reasons why the late complaint rule should not apply. It is reasonable to expect Mrs B to have complained sooner.
- Mrs B complains of lack of respite care however there is no evidence which indicates Mrs B has made the Council aware of her complaint, giving the Council the opportunity to investigate and reply.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because the complaint is late and there are no good reasons to exercise discretion to accept it now. There is also no evidence Mrs B has complained to the Council about the lack of respite care she is getting.
Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman