Ombudsman condemns care firm for threatening and abusive complaint response

A Leicester care provider that threatened a vulnerable elderly woman with bailiffs because she complained about the care her husband received has been heavily criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The owner of Pine View Care Homes Ltd initially responded to the family’s complaint suggesting they were only complaining to get out of paying for outstanding fees.

person holding hands

The response said: ‘families like yours disgust me, as soon as there is an invoice to pay, all the complaints come out, no complaints were made when [Mr C] was a resident but as soon as he leaves and I ask for the invoices to be paid, this is what we get. Disgusting.’

The response said the family had seven days to pay the debt and added: ‘If this is not paid the debt will be sent to our debt collectors to collect what is legally owed. We are not gangsters…’

The family complained to the Ombudsman. When the Ombudsman informed the owner that a complaint had been made, he again wrote to the family, this time saying: ‘I am not interested in excuses, get the invoice paid. You have 7 days. With regard to complaining, you can complain to whoever you want, does not bother me in the slightest…I will send collectors in if this is not paid.’

And after the Ombudsman again wrote to the company informing it about its enquiries, it sent two further emails on the same evening stating: ‘Let’s not play your silly games. Pay up or I will seize goods from your mother’s property with an extra £800 costs. Do the correct thing and pay.’ The Ombudsman’s initial investigation found the provider’s response to the family’s complaint had caused an injustice. It recommended the provider apologise and pay them £150 for the distress caused.

It has refused to do so.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said: ‘The words of the company owner speak for themselves. He has shown a complete lack of maturity and professionalism in his responses to this family’s concerns. Instead of investigating their complaint and responding rationally, he instead sent them intimidating, abusive and threatening emails suggesting they were at fault.

‘He then further escalated the threats when the family exercised their right to bring their complaint to my office.’

The Ombudsman has now issued a rare Adverse Findings Notice against the provider for its failure to comply with recommendations. The Ombudsman has issued only 15 such notices since it gained the jurisdiction to investigate complaints about independently provided care in 2010.

Najsarek added: ‘How an organisation responds to complaints, both from clients and to enquiries from my office, says a lot about the culture in which it operates. I am disappointed to see such contemptuous responses from a registered provider and will be sharing these findings with the care regulator, the Care Quality Commission.

Image: Matheus Ferrero


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