Ombudsman tells council to apologise

In a third Local Government Ombudsman case made public this year, Reading Borough Council has been found at fault.
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Reading Borough Council has been told to apologise to the relative of a woman who was caught in a dispute about her care needs, in another case upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman.

The woman had moved to a Reading care home after a fall in May 2017, from Bristol, to be nearer to her daughter. As her savings started to run out, she decided to sell her house in Bristol to pay for her care home fees. The woman’s son asked Reading Borough Council in June 2017 to assess her care needs and apply a ‘12-week property disregard’ – a three month ‘breather’ from care costs, that eligible people can receive, to give people time to sell their house.

A council panel met in August 2017 and turned down the request for the 12-week disregard, saying the woman was a Bristol resident. However Bristol Council said it considered she was now a Reading resident.

The woman sold her house in October 2017 and passed away in December 2017.

A further council panel hearing in February 2018 again ruled the woman had been ineligible for the 12-week disregard because her care needs could have been met in Extra Care sheltered housing. The woman’s son said this had not been explained to the family after the first panel.

The relative then made a formal complaint to the council and received a formal response two months later, offering an apology and around £6,000 for the 12-week disregard.

The LGO said RBC should have sent the dispute to the Secretary of State, as is required when two councils cannot agree.

The Ombudsman said the council should ‘apologise for the faults…and the distress these have caused him and his family’ and also ‘remind its staff within adult social care of the importance to provide a sufficiently detailed explanation why it has made a decision, particularly when it is not the outcome the client hoped for.”

Read the LGO findings

HOW TO GET HELP WITH A SOCIAL CARE COMPLAINT

  • Reading people can receive free help to resolve complaints about adult social care that is assessed, provided or commissioned by Reading Borough Council
  • This help is provided by Reading Voice, the advocacy service managed by Healthwatch Reading
  • Reading Voice provides a free, independent and confidential service
  • Our advocates are trained in supporting people with extra needs and have knowledge about social care rights, legislation, and local procedures
  • Call Reading Voice on 0118 937 2295