Hertfordshire County Council has been urged to review its care practices around helping people keep their home tidy.
An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council routinely told people it would not fund support to maintain a habitable home, and that they should find the money themselves.
This contravenes the Care Act, which states being unable to maintain a habitable home environment is one of the key factors which may negatively affect a person’s quality of life.
The Ombudsman investigated a complaint from a woman who has various medical conditions, is cared for in bed, and receives support from the council to be cared for at home.
The council reassessed the woman when her needs changed in 2018 and said her care package could be streamlined and her personal budget reduced.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council’s reassessment did not properly define which of the woman’s needs were eligible for support.
‘In this case the council appears to have decided some needs are more important than others. This is contrary to the Care Act, which places equal importance on all eligible needs – it is designed to ensure councils do not pick and choose which they meet,’ said Ombudsman Michael King.
‘I urge Hertfordshire County Council to reflect on my report and make the changes I have recommended. These are designed to both put things right for the woman, but also to improve its practices by bringing them in line with the Care Act.’
In response, Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for adult care and health, Cllr Richard Roberts said it has accepted Ombudsman’s decision made in this case and are in the process of taking the necessary steps needed to comply with the recommendations.
‘The council’s social care staff are dedicated to providing a high standard of service to all people, and do not believe that the case represents a systematic failure, but reflects the circumstances of the individual person, that we continue to work with, and support. Our social care staff will continue to maintain our high standards in how we practice and undertake assessments,’ said Cllr Roberts.
‘Whilst the council consider this an isolated incident, the outcome will also be taken as an opportunity to review how best we ensure compliance with statutory obligations, and adherence to good practice, whilst meeting the increasing demand on our services, during these challenging times.’
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