Council criticised for not consulting woman before banning relative from visiting care home

Nottinghamshire council also failed to undertake a risk assessment despite the ban lasting two years, the Local Government Ombudsman found

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Photo: Bits and Splits/Fotolia

A council has been criticised for failing to consult a woman before banning her daughter’s partner from visiting her in a care home.

The woman moved into the care home in November 2013 when her daughter and her daughter’s partner decided they could no longer care for her at home.

The Local Government Ombudsman found that in the same month social workers asked the man not to visit the care home “at least for the time being” because he had disclosed almost losing his temper physically with the woman.

The man agreed with this restriction, but the council did not ask the woman if this was what she wanted and told the care home to call the police if he tried to visit.

What followed was what the ombudsman called a “confused sequence of events”.

The man contacted the council to ask if he had been banned from visiting the care home for life. He was told to speak to the council’s safeguarding team, but the ombudsman found no regard of him doing this.

In April 2014 the council recorded that the man had not been barred from visiting and a risk assessment had been put in place if he visited but did not comply with the care home’s rules.

However, the ombudsman found this was not true and in fact the ban had not been lifted and no risk assessment had ever taken place to justify the ban.

Over the next two years the man tried to visit and on some occasions had been told to leave and became angry, but on other occasions had been allowed in, the investigation found.

‘Not robust’

The man then raised concerns on two separate occasions with the Care Quality Commission about the woman’s care.

The investigations which followed his second complaint revealed the council had lifted the visiting ban in March 2016 but had failed to inform the care home of this.

On discovering the ban had been lifted, the care home undertook its own risk assessment, which concluded the man was a risk to other residents and staff and should be banned.

However, the ombudsman concluded there was no evidence that the man posed a threat to residents and that the risk assessment undertaken was not robust enough.

“The timing of the risk assessment, following the man’s complaint to CQC, raises the prospect that his complaint prompted the care home to reinforce its ban,” the report said.

“This is supported by the record of the council’s visit to the care home on 20 May 2016, when it [the care home] told the council that the man’s false allegations were a reason for the ban.”

‘Best interests’

Michael King, the local government and social care ombudsman, said that the care provider had made some inaccurate statements and could not be “a reliable broker” when asking the woman if she wanted to see her daughter’s partner.

He said the visiting restriction should have been based on a specific request from the woman, or a risk assessment and best interest decision if she did not have the capacity to make the request. The arrangement should then have been reviewed regularly.

“The council could have avoided many of the problems experienced here if they had either asked the woman’s wishes or carried out a proper risk assessment at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

He ordered the council to appoint an independent advocate to seek the woman’s views about seeing the man outside of the care home and pay the man £300 compensation.

The council has agreed to the recommendations.

Sue Batty, adult social care and health director and Nottinghamshire council, said the council and care home “could clearly have improved how these visiting restrictions were considered and made, which we recognise and apologise for. The report emphasises that the resident is happy in the home and wants to stay there.”

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