Council apologises after not updating man about mother’s care

An Essex council has apologised after failing to update a man whose health conditions prevented him from seeing his late mother about her wellbeing, a watchdog has found.

The man, referred to as Mr X by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, was reliant on help from Essex County Council to deal with his elderly mother’s care and finances.

But according to an Ombudsman report, he had to wait months at a time for updates about her health, particularly her balance and hearing, leaving him unsure she was being properly cared for.

Essex County Council has apologised to the man and paid him £200.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said in a statement: “We have acknowledged and accepted the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and the recommendations contained in the report.

“We remain dedicated to ensuring all our residents receive the highest quality of care and are committed to learning to improve.”

Mr X’s mother, referred to as Mrs Y, had a fall in March 2021 which resulted in her going to hospital. She was discharged to a care home for short term therapy after a recommendation from an occupational therapist at the hospital.

According to the report, Mr X spoke to the occupational therapist in April 2021 about arranging for her to return home.

But he was not told her care placement had become permanent until June and was not given a copy of Mrs Y’s care plan until later that month.

The Ombudsman said there was no evidence the council discussed the review of Mrs Y’s care with him and that he was not advised of its result despite being her next of kin.

The report continues to say Mr X repeatedly sought assurance the care home was meeting Mrs Y’s needs, but the council did not respond to his concerns until late September 2021.

A financial assessment for a temporary placement was completed despite Mrs Y’s placement becoming permanent, and the council failed to write to Mr X to clearly explain that once it became permanent it had no obligation to be involved in her funding arrangements.

Mr X complained via his local councillor several times in July 2021 after not receiving a response from his senior social worker a month prior.

But according to the report, the council delayed responding to his complaint by a further month and then made an “unclear offer as a goodwill gesture” which implied it would pay some of the care costs up to August 19, 2021.

It later clarified it would pay these to the care home which it would then reclaim from Mr Y’s estate.

Mrs Y passed away in October 2021, the report says.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter