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South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council (20 001 416)

Category : Adult care services > Safeguarding

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 04 Jun 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complained about the Council’s decision to put her mother into respite care and the care quality she received once she moved. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the Council has agreed to take proportionate action to remedy the injustice to Mrs X and her father.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complained about the Council’s decision to put her mother into a care home and the care quality she received once she moved. She said that the decision to remove her mother from her and her father’s care was unsubstantiated, and it caused them injustice.

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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’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Ms X. Ms X had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered her comments received before making a final decision.
  2. I considered the Council’s responses to Ms X’s complaint.

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What I found

Background

  1. In December 2019 a carer attending to Ms X’s parents reported a safeguarding concern.
  2. The home care provider contacted Ms X and informed her of the incident. Ms X asked if the complaint was going to be escalated any further, and the manager told her that it would not go any further.
  3. A few days after the conversation with the care provider, the Council’s Adult Social Care team contacted Ms X and told her that it had decided to remove her mother from her care and put her into respite care.
  4. Ms X said that the Council did not seek her or her father’s views when it was deciding to take her mother into respite care.
  5. Additionally, Ms X said that the day her mother was moving to the respite placement a social worker asked her to organise the transport, and Ms X said she felt that it was the Council’s responsibility as they were the ones taking her mother away.
  6. After Ms X’s mother later moved into another care home, Ms X voiced her concerns about the standard of care that was provided during respite.
  7. In late December 2019, while visiting her mother the care home informed Ms X that due to the safeguarding concerns the family must be supervised during their visits. Both Ms X and her father were hurt and distressed by the decision to only allow them to have supervised visits.
  8. Ms X was not satisfied with the Council’s decision making and at the end of January 2020 she made an official complaint.
  9. The Council found another care home for Ms X’s mother and she was transferred there. Ms X was happy with the new placement, and so was her mother.
  10. In February 2020 Ms X’s mother died. The Council asked Ms X to cover the cost of her mother’s respite care.

What I found

  1. The Council investigated all points of Ms X’s complaint. The investigating officer made recommendations for service improvements to the Council and the care home. The Council agreed to these, which included staff to take part in reflective supervision, and to receive training on the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Human Rights Act 1998 and supported decision making. It also agreed to waive the respite fee.
  2. While the recommendations suggested are appropriate and address the Councils fault, I found that the distress that was caused to Ms X and her father was not remedied. I therefore made a further recommendation.

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Agreed action

  1. The Council has agreed to remedy the distress caused to Ms X and her father by payment of £250 each.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because the Council has agreed to take proportionate action to remedy the injustice to Mrs X and her father.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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