Council broke care law by delaying assessment, failing to issue a plan and charging for intermediate care


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A local authority violated the 2014 Care Act by failing to assess a woman’s needs for several weeks, produce a care plan when she was found eligible, or provide her with free intermediate care, revealed an investigation.

In a report, the local government and social services ombudsperson said the Durham council failings had caused the woman, who has mental and physical health problems, “avoidable distress and inconvenience.”

Durham accepted the ombudsman’s judgment and accepted the report’s recommendations to apologize to Ms X, pay her £ 300 and review the council’s care planning process.

Deferred assessment

Ms X contacted the board on June 28, 2019, describing her condition and explaining that she could not sleep, did not like going out and had difficulty dressing, using her bathroom or washing housework. The council sent Ms X information about care providers, cleaning services and a friend service.

On July 17, she contacted the council again and said her doctor told her to contact the council’s social work team about her mental and physical health issues and the impact it had had. on his ability to manage his house. She was told to ask her doctor for a referral for mental health services.

The board received a referral letter from Ms X’s doctor on July 30, outlining the impact of her condition and indicating that she needed an attendant. The board said he was unable to help and that Ms X would have to fund her own care.

Finally, on August 9, following a joint request from the local deputy and Ms X’s doctor, the board referred Ms X’s case to a social worker for assessment.

The assessment on August 28 found that Ms X had eligible care and support needs due to her physical condition as well as her depression and anxiety. With reference to the results set out in the regulations on eligibility criteria under the Care Act, he concluded that she was not able to:

  • Manage and maintain your nutrition.
  • Maintain personal hygiene.
  • Enjoy the house in complete safety.
  • Maintain a livable home environment.
  • Access community facilities.

Ms. X’s social worker discussed a care plan with her and Ms. X agreed to do a financial assessment to see how much she should pay for her care. She did not want to start any treatment until she heard the results of her financial assessment.

On September 19, the council wrote to Ms X and told her she would have to pay £ 112.75 per week to cover the cost of her care, a contribution which has shocked her. Her social worker agreed to send a request for funding to the NHS, which then went to the Intermediate Care (IC) Council on October 18.

The NHS assessed Ms X as having difficulty washing, dressing and preparing meals and offered a 30-minute morning self-care package twice a week, an additional 15 minutes twice a week for the shower and 40 minutes of treatment in the evening. meals, washing dishes, monitoring and encouraging mobility. The package was to last six weeks.

On November 12, Ms X spoke to the board and said she wanted to cancel her Intermediate Care (IC) package, which she was not happy with, which the board agreed to. The board then sent Ms. X an invoice for the IC care package.

Multiple failures

The mediator found that Ms X clearly expressed a need for support when she first contacted the council in June 2019, and this was repeated by her doctor, meaning that the council’s first contact service would have had to request an assessment under article 9 of the law on care “The council has a duty to assess a person who appears to have care and support needs, it has only referred Ms. X for a evaluation only after receiving a request from his doctor and his deputy.

“Although the board did a needs assessment, there was a delay of about six weeks, Ms X had time and difficulty contacting her GP, her MP and filing a complaint before she went. get an assessment, ”the watchdog said. . “This caused additional avoidable distress and inconvenience to what was already a distressing situation for Ms. X.”

When the board finally carried out the assessment of Ms X and identified the eligible care and support needs, it did not produce a care plan, which was a fault, the mediator found, as required by article 24 of the law on care.

Under the Care and Assistance (Billing and Resource Assessment) Regulation 2014, intermediate care must be provided free of charge for six weeks, which means that the board was wrong to send Ms X an invoice for its IC package. Although council waived the fee, that did not take away the distress Ms. X suffered, the watchdog said.

The board accepted that he had wrongly billed Ms. X for her CI after an administrative error when changing care providers. He canceled the charges. He also admitted the shortcomings noted on the delay in the assessment of Ms. X and the non-production of a care plan when required.

Recommendations accepted

Lee Alexander, Durham County Council adult care manager, said the council received the ombudsman’s decision and acted quickly to ensure all actions were taken.

“We did a thorough review of our care planning process and shared the results with all staff. All employees who work in the direct social assistance service have also been reminded of our duty to offer an assessment when there is an appearance of need.

“We have since informed the mediator of the measures taken and we have informed him that he is satisfied and considers the matter to be closed.”

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