LGO report highlights how information about complaints can inform care choices

People who are choosing care for themselves or their loved ones are being reminded they can access information about how different providers respond to complaints.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), investigates complaints about all adult social care services and publishes its findings. Today it is highlighting the information it makes available following a complaint about an East Sussex care provider, Rooks (Care Homes) Ltd, which failed to respond to a recommendation made by the Ombudsman to remedy a complaint about Green Hill Care Home in Crowhurst, which the company runs.

The LGO is publicising details of the case so people can make informed decisions about their choice of care.

A man complained that Rooks (Care Homes) Ltd did not reimburse money owed to his mother’s estate when it was paid twice for his mother’s care by both the family and the local authority.

The man paid for his mother’s care at the home in Station Road, Crowhurst but when her assets fell below £23,500 he asked the local authority for help with fees. The county council carried out a financial assessment several months later. During the intervening months the man continued to pay for his mother’s care. Once the local authority agreed to fund part of the woman’s care, it backdated its payment to the date of the man’s request, and so the provider received the payment twice.

Despite the man writing to Rooks (Care Homes) Ltd and lodging a formal complaint, the provider has not responded or refunded the overpaid money. It has failed to comply with the LGO’s requests for information and documents throughout the investigation.

The LGO recommended that the care home apologise to the family and reimburse the woman’s estate for £4,403.26.

Because of the care home’s lack of co-operation with the investigation, the LGO has shared its findings with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the regulator for health and social care provision for England, for it to consider whether any regulatory action is required.

Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, said:

“It is unacceptable for a regulated body like Rooks (Care Homes) Ltd to refuse to engage with the statutory complaints system. I hope they will reconsider their position, apologise and reimburse this woman’s estate with the money that it rightfully deserves.

“Fortunately cases like this are very rare, and this is only the second time I have had to issue such a notice about a private provider, but I am highlighting this investigation so that people are made aware of the care home’s actions and make informed decisions about care for themselves or their loved ones.

“The public has a right, when choosing their care services, to know how those services respond to complaints. That is why earlier this year we published for the first time the complaints records for all social care providers in England. We also publish details of all our decisions on our website. By making this information available it will help people who use social care services to make more informed choices.”

As the Social Care Ombudsman, the LGO investigates unresolved complaints about all adult care services – including care that is privately funded as well as publicly arranged. The LGO is free to use, impartial and independent. It publishes reports of its investigations to share lessons learned and help improve public services.

Article date: 18 November 2014