Hackney Council told to pay £20,000 for pensioner’s care home fees
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The town hall has been told to cough up £20,000 for a vulnerable woman’s care home fees after an investigation found it dragged its heels assessing her needs.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, an independent watchdog, said Hackney Council took too long to carry out a care assessment, under-funded her fees for months and even “wasted time” arguing with another council over whose responsibility she was.
Ombudsman Michael King said: “Hackney’s delay left a family with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the council would foot the bill for her care.
“It should not have taken both a solicitor’s letter and my investigation for the council to recognise its duties towards her.
“It is imperative people in need are assessed in a timely fashion. Any doubts about that person’s residency should be referred to the Secretary of State.
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“Hackney has agreed to my recommendations and I hope other councils will learn from this complaint.”
The elderly woman, who had dementia, was told she could not return home after a hospital stay in early 2014 and she moved in with her daughter, who arranged for carers to visit daily.
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Months later, the struggling daughter moved her mother to a care home outside the borough for some respite.
When she asked Hackney to reassess her mother’s needs, she was told to speak to the borough in which her mother was now living.
But the other authority told the family the woman was still Hackney’s responsibility. Eventually, 10 months after the request was made, Hackney carried out an assessment and found the woman needed serious help with food and nutrition, toileting, dressing and staying safe.
Hackney agreed to fund the placement from October 2015, but would not pay for the period before that.
The family complained via a solicitor and when they were not happy with the council’s response, they complained to the Ombudsman, who ruled Hackney should have paid the fees from November 2014, not October 2015.
The council agreed to settle the bill of £19,898 and pay the family’s solicitor fees. A spokeswoman said: “We fully accept the LGO’s recommendations and findings and have already taken action as requested. Lessons have been learnt to ensure there are ongoing discussions with loved ones in situations like this and we urge people to let us know of any change to their circumstances as and when they arise.”