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Councils Must Meet All Assessed Care Needs, Says Ombudsman

People who need care should not be asked to choose which of their needs, identified through an assessment, their council should meet, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said.

An investigation by the Ombudsman found a man was placed in this situation, incurring him more than £17,000 in costs, by Northamptonshire County Council.

The Ombudsman is now asking the council to accept its faults and put things right, while reminding all councils in England of their duty to meet all service users’ eligible needs.

The investigation found the council’s assessment of a man, who is profoundly deaf, suffers from sleep apnoea, anxiety and has other mental health needs, indicated he required both day and night-time support.

However, the council only provided the man with night-time care and advised him if he wanted support during the day, it would reduce the care he received at night.

The council initially accepted there had been fault with the way it had treated the man and his family, but withdrew its acceptance four months later.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“People should not be put in the position of having to pick and choose which areas of their life are supported and which neglected. When an assessment is done and essential care needs are identified, it’s not an option to prioritise the support and discard any that do not suit the council.

“In this case, I am particularly disappointed Northamptonshire council has reneged on its acceptance of fault, and left the family without support for so much longer than if they had put in place earlier the remedy I recommended.

“I now call on it to consider my report as a matter of urgency and put in place all the care this man and his family need.”

The man’s care plan states he needs support with many areas of his daily life. These include maintaining personal hygiene, reducing his vulnerability and anxiety at night, developing and maintaining relationships in the community and help to use his home safely.

But when the plan was developed it only showed a personal assistant would be provided between 10pm and 8am. The council said the man agreed that with support at night, he would be able to cope during the day. The man has disputed this.

When the man complained to the council, it offered to provide him with an hour’s support during the day, but only if his night-time care was reduced by the same amount.

The man and his family have had to pay for private daytime support – at a cost of more than £17,000 – because the council did not fund his daytime care.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.

In this case, the council should pay the man £750 to recognise the time and trouble he was put to when pursuing his complaint and the distress caused by not meeting his assessed eligible needs. It should also pay the man’s mother a further £350 to recognise her time, trouble and distress.

It should also refund the £17,344 the man and his parents have spent to provide the services privately and continue to meet the cost of his day and night-time needs until a reassessment is carried out or his needs change.

The council should also use an independent assessor to carry out a reassessment and ensure its social workers receive training to enable them to conduct assessments of people who are deaf and have other complex needs.

 

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