Lincolnshire County Council will pay £600 to the daughter of a man suffering from dementia and physical disabilities after an investigation found that the authority had not been clear on care home costs.
A report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said that the council failed to offer the family a choice of care home for their father which did not require a ‘top-up’ fee, and had not intervened when he was threatened with eviction.
The ombudsman acted after it received a complaint from the man’s daughter.
The county council has already said sorry to the family but will offer a more formal apology, as well as paying £300 to compensate for the distress caused and a further £300 for the time and trouble in bringing the complaint forward.
It has already reimbursed the top-up fee of £65.
The report by the ombudsman and subsequent apology from the council has nothing to do with the quality of care provided.
However, the investigation did find that the family was not told about the possibilities available to them when their father who was living in Lincoln was placed in a care home as an emergency in March 2016.
He had previously been assessed as eligible for council funding.
The report said that the council should have identified and offered them the choice of a home which did not require a top-up fee.
As the family was not given this option, the ombudsman said that the council should have paid the full amount instead of telling them that they had to pay the top-up fee.
The family struggled to pay the top-up fees, leading to the care home threatening to evict their father in May 2016.
At this point, the ombudsman said the council should have intervened and paid the entire fee, as well as addressing the “intimidating language” used by the care home.
However, the report said that the council expected the man’s daughter to find a placement over the weekend. She contacted 23 care homes in that time, finding only one without a top-up. Her father moved into the home the following week.
The ombudsman also said that the council did not act in line with the Care Act 2014 by failing to offer the father a personal budget and giving the family the option of paying the top-up fee directly to them.
Concerns were raised in the report that the council had failed to explain a person’s rights and the council’s duties under the Care Act.
The ombudsman said that the council’s information about care home fees on its website was unclear and asked them to review its procedures.
Lincolnshire County Council has accepted the ombudsman’s recommendations and will conduct a review.
Council leader Martin Hill said: “I stress there is no issue about the level of care. The issue is all about whether someone was advised whether they could go to another home which was cheaper.
“Unfortunately, now we’ve got to be a bit more bureaucratic, fill more forms in which will be a cost. It means social workers will be spending less time doing their main job and more time filling forms in.
“We’re also doing a review of how we advise people.
“Again it’s a process issue, not a big issue about care.”