Yorkshire man with dementia left unsupported in hotel for too long

A Calderdale man was left in unsuitable hotel accommodation for too long, because council departments did not work together, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man, who had a rapidly-progressing form of dementia, became homeless in October 2021. The council placed him in temporary hotel accommodation while it decided what could be done for him.

However, instead of working together in the man’s best interests, both the housing and adult social care departments decided they could not act until the other had done so.

This lack of joined-up thinking left a vulnerable man without the social care support he needed in unsuitable accommodation for too long. His placement in unsuitable temporary accommodation also played a part in his inability to access much-needed community health services to medicate his dementia.

Because of his growing needs the man was eventually sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and later passed away in hospital.

The man’s sister complained about her brother’s treatment to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s investigation criticised the council’s handling of the man’s case.

It found the council did not

  • follow up on his capacity assessment and make a ‘best interests’ decision for him
  • offer advocacy support to the man
  • include the man’s sister in its meetings or decision-making about the man’s situation
  • finalise a Care Act assessment

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“In this case Calderdale council showed a clear lack of initiative when trying to help this man – the housing service decided it could not act until a social care assessment had taken place, while the social care department said it could not act until the man was in appropriate housing.

“This meant the man was left in unsuitable accommodation for far too long, with no social support and officers relying on the goodwill of untrained hotel staff to keep tabs on him.

“To its credit, the council has readily accepted our report’s findings and has agreed a host of measures to ensure this situation cannot happen again.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise and pay £750 to the man’s sister for the significant distress she experienced.

It will also provide the Ombudsman with evidence of the service improvements it will make, which are aimed at ensuring cases involving both services areas are progressed appropriately and collaboratively.

Article date: 08 September 2023

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