Watchdog raps council for ‘avoidable distress’ caused to couple because of care mistakes

Norfolk County Council has apologised after mistakes were made over couple's care.

Norfolk County Council has apologised after mistakes were made over couple's care. - Credit: Archant

A watchdog has rapped council bosses for the distress caused to a Norfolk couple, for mistakes made over the care of a husband with 'significant health conditions'.

Norfolk County Council has apologised after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the authority was at fault over the case of the couple, known as Mr and Mrs F.

Mrs F had complained to the ombudsman on behalf of her husband. He had a history of stroke, heart attacks and back pain, along with a history of falls. She was his main carer.

The council had provided 46 hours of care a week from February 2015, which Mr F did not contribute money towards.

In May 2017, the council reassessed his care package and concluded his needs could be met through a reduced care package of 23 hours a week - and said he would have to pay £69.14 per week. That same month, the council incorrectly assessed it should increase to £91.49.

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In July that year, the council carried out a carer's assessment for Mrs F, who had a history of stroke and problems with her hands and wrists.

But, in September, after another care package review, they concluded the reduced care package was still adequate.

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After Mrs F contacted the council to say Mr F was often falling, there was a new assessment in April 2018, which showed his mobility had deteriorated significantly, while Mrs F's health and wellbeing had declined, which she attributed to her increased caring role.

That led to his care package increasing to 33.25 hours a week. The council made another mistake when they said he must pay £127.79 a week.

The ombudsman said the council missed a chance, in July 2017, to review Mr F's care and support plan in light of his wife's limited capacity to provide support - which had been highlighted in May 2017 and in July 2017.

The ombudsman said: 'The council's failure to undertake a comprehensive review earlier than it did, caused Mr and Mrs F avoidable distress and uncertainty for a protracted period.' The ombudsman also said the council had incorrectly assessed what Mr F should have been paying for his care in May 2017 and in April 2018.

The council said it had apologised and had made changes so lessons could be learned.

A Norfolk County Council spokeswoman said: 'Norfolk County Council has made a full apology to Mr and Mrs F for the mistakes we made in this case. We fully respect the outcome of the Local Government Ombudsman investigation.

'We've made changes to staff supervision and case audit, including service user and carer assessments and reviews. Other changes to the charging process and its management have also been made.

'Cases like this are rare but highlight the importance of actively learning from our mistakes to avoid them happening again.'

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