A council has agreed to pay a carer £9,000 for assessment failings that made it more difficult for her to request support in caring for her severely disabled son.
The Local Government Ombudsman issued a critical report on Worcestershire Council today regarding the case of Mr and Ms Crown (not their real names).
Mr Crown, who has cerebral palsy, has round-the-clock care needs that were mostly met by his mother until 2008, when she formally requested help in the form of direct payments, which now cover his full care needs.
The ombudsman’s report found that from 2003 Ms Crown was feeling increasing strain in her role and Mr Crown was seeking more independence from her.
Assessments of Mr Crown from 2003-8 all stated that the family was happy with the caring arrangement, provided respite was available.
However, Ms Crown was not offered an annual carer’s assessment from 2004-6 and the family were not given the opportunity to sign off on the records of Mr Crown’s assessments in 2006 and 2007. Documents sent out by the council to the family following his 2004 assessment did not refer to the possibility that they could obtain direct payments for his care.
The failings resulted in a “lost opportunity for Ms Crown to articulate her needs as a carer and created uncertainty about whether she would have had the opportunity for greater support in caring for her son since 2004”, the ombudsman, Jane Martin, concluded.
Martin accepted that the family’s failure to request support from 2003-8 contributed to social workers concluding that Mr Crown had no presenting need, so they were not under an obligation to discuss direct payments.
However, she added: “It is disappointing that social workers involved with the family did not find a way to explore more effectively, at an earlier date, if Mr Crown’s personal care needs should have been identified as an assessed need for community care services, bearing in mind the possible option of direct payments which would flow from an assessed need being identified.”
The council has accepted the proposed remedy of a £9,000 payment to Ms Crown, reflecting the lost opportunity for her to receive more support in caring for her son.
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