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Stoke-on-Trent City Council (21 009 113)

Category : Adult care services > Residential care

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 16 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about a care home losing Mrs Y’s belongings. The Council has agreed to our recommendation to remedy the outstanding injustice to Mr X, and to review and report to us about the care provider’s actions.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complained the care home, on behalf of the Council, discarded his deceased mother’s (Mrs Y’s) belongings without contacting the family. The care provider took a long time to respond to his contact and did not respond to his complaint. This has caused the family distress. Mr X requests compensation for the lost belongings, an apology and lessons to be learned to prevent similar issues repeating.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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 considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs Y passed away in November 2020. The care provider, acting on behalf of the Council, agreed to store Mrs Y’s belongings as this was during one of the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the restrictions eased, Mr X contacted the care home but it could not find Mrs Y’s belongings.
  2. After some further contact between Mr X and the care home, it located some items. However, some remain missing. We cannot say exactly what is still missing and how much the items may be worth in monetary or sentimental terms.
  3. The Council apologised to Mr X. However, it is appropriate for the Council to pay Mr X a token financial remedy to acknowledge the added time and trouble he went to, and the distress and uncertainty he is left with about what happened to the remaining items and whether there may be further items not accounted for.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed to pay Mr X £200 to recognise the impact events had on him. It will do this within a month of my final decision.
  2. The care provider told Mr X it has changed its processes around handling belongings when residents pass away. The Council agreed to my recommendation to provide us with an update on the care provider’s actions within one month of my final decision. This will include a copy of any policy and procedural documents the care provider has updated, and comment on whether the Council is satisfied with the care provider’s implementation of changes.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because the Council has agreed to suitable action to remedy the remaining injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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