Decision Date: 30th September 2020
Ms B lived alone and was a vulnerable adult. She received care from her daughter, funded by direct payments. She had neighbour issues and felt isolated. Ms B’s daughter did not live close to her mother.
During an annual review in 2019, the previous review having been done in 2018, Ms B asked for help to move closer to her daughter. The Council said it could not do this through a review and would need to do a full re-assessment in order to help.
It first spoke with Ms B’s daughter, who questioned why the reassessment was even taking place. According to the report, the Council said it would check, but never did so.
Ms B said that the Council came to her home, later on, unannounced for the re-assessment.
The Council gained Ms B’s consent to contact third parties such as her GP to help with supporting her house move, but never then took that action.
The Council never completed the reassessment and thus had not completed a review or reassessment since 2018.
In 2020, the Council attempted to complete a reassessment. Ms B requested contact with only female officers, however a male officer attempted to start the reassessment process.
Ms B complained to the LGO and stated that the Council’s failings had impacted her mental health.
What was found
The Council’s poor communication resulted in no follow up actions as promised. This was fault.
The Council had failed to complete a review or reassessment since 2018. This was fault.
The Council failed to support Ms B with her house move. This was fault.
The LGO recommended the Council:
- Take action to amend its systems to make requests clearer, such as female workers only to undertake assessments;
- Apologise to Ms B for failing to explain why it did not complete the review, or why a reassessment was needed to help support her house move;
- Apologise for not completing follow up actions it had promised, and specifically the follow up it recorded after meeting Ms B’s daughter in November 2019, and her request for written information in February 2020.
- Apologise for contacts made by male workers;
- Re-assess Ms B as soon as possible;
- Give any support it could with helping Ms B to move house.
Points to note for councils, professionals, people who use services and their carers, advocacy providers and members of the public
In this complaint, there were faults underpinned by poor communication and a lack of regard for legal responsibilities. Under s.27 of the Care Act 2014, councils have a duty to keep Care and Support plans under review. At the outset of this complaint, it appeared that this would be the case.
However, on a request for support to move closer to her daughter the Council indicated that it would need to progress this by way of reassessment of her needs. A reassessment is required when something has changed in terms of the person’s needs or in the approach of the council to meeting needs, in a situation where the plan will need to be changed.
In this case it’s just not possible to tell what the move would have entailed for the plan.
It may be that the daughter lived in another social services area altogether; that would have shed a bit more light on the issues underlying the situation because if a person moves out of area, then (sometimes depending on whether the accommodation counts as specified accommodation or not) they can be entitled to be passported through with good communications under explicit provisions in the Care Act from one council to another, for which an up to date assessment is required, by one or the other councils involved (s37 and s38).
If the desired move was not going to be out of area, so there was not an issue of process for continuity or continued ordinary residence to be focused on, the most obvious thing to tell Ms B was that social services departments do not provide housing or organise moves.
Whilst a county council’s ASC team may have some clout with the district council, for the purposes of boosting the points scores for people with disabilities who wish to move – the district council being the sort of council that counts as a Housing Authority – swaps of council housing (we don’t know whether that was the form of Ms. B’s accommodation, it may have been privately sourced) are down to individuals and the housing authority; the provision (direct) or securing of access to supported living, or to sheltered accommodation, is via much more complicated routes, and not a social services function, in other than exceptional cases.
The report itself is very weak in this regard, in terms of not helping the public to grasp what is really going on here.
The Council then failed to complete the reassessment. Ms B had requested female only officers from the Council and the Council made no attempt to accommodate this request. There is no obligation to do so, but if one is asked, or one’s request is taken down, it is only administrative good practice and courtesy to try, and then explain why it wouldn’t be possible.
The Council had already responded by the time the LGO made its recommendations and stated that it was actively engaged with Ms B. Whilst the LGO often does recommend a monetary award for the distress people experience with delay, it did not do so in this complaint.
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The full Local Government Ombudsman report of Leicestershire County Council’s actions can be found here