Hampshire County Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) after it failed to meet an elderly man’s needs when his finances ran short.
The LGSCO said the man, who has dementia, had initially paid for the care he received in his home. But, in Spring 2019, when a relative alerted the council that the man’s capital had fallen below the £23,250 threshold, it did not complete a Care Act compliant assessment.
Because of this, the council failed to address the man’s needs for help to maintain his home, leaving the man to pay for the support he needed.
The relative gave the council evidence that his needs had increased in September 2019, and care workers’ records showed they were having to stay longer to meet his needs.
This should have triggered a review of his needs by social workers, but none was carried out until June 2020. At that point, the council increased the man’s budget.
The LGSCO’s investigation found the council failed to carry out a Care Act compliant assessment and delayed implementing the man’s personal budget.
It also failed to review the man’s needs in 2019, and either failed to produce or to retain a care and support plan for him and therefore did not identify and meet his eligible need for help to maintain his home.
Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said: ‘Where people have assessed care needs, councils must place equal importance on all those needs, and have a duty to meet them.
They cannot, as it appears in this case, pass that duty onto the person themselves. This is the second case we have highlighted recently where councils have appeared to sideline people’s needs to maintain their home.
‘I am pleased the council has agreed to my recommendations, and hope the changes it has pledged to make to the way it carries out assessments of people’s needs, will ensure it meets all of its duties to the people of Hampshire in future.’
The LGSCO said the council has agreed to backdate the man’s personal budget to the date his relative told the council his finances had fallen below £23,250. It will also backdate the amount of additional funding the man needed for his morning call between September 2019 and June 2020.
It has also agreed to pay the man £200, apologise to his relative and pay her £250 for her time and trouble bringing the complaint.
The council has also agreed to reassess the man, addressing his need to maintain a habitable home.
The council has also agreed to ensure more joined-up working between its departments when they are alerted to a person’s capital falling below £23,250.
It will also ensure assessments take into account people’s need to maintain a habitable home and that officers always produce and retain care and support plans where needed.
A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: ‘We always try to do our level best to get things right first time for Hampshire residents, and we take any issues raised very seriously. Where we haven’t been able to resolve things directly with the member of the public, we work closely with the Local Government Ombudsman to address the issue, to learn from our mistakes and improve our services along the way. In this case, Hampshire County Council has accepted in full the recommendations of the Ombudsman and we have apologised to the individual. Steps have also already been taken to apply the findings of this case and they will form part of a review into working practices between teams.’
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