A ‘flawed’ social work assessment led to a vulnerable woman being left to pay for her care despite her having no capacity to do so and no-one to manage her finances.
An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman found Worcestershire council failed to properly assess the woman’s needs, including her mental capacity, when it placed her in a care home after she had been discharged from hospital.
The flawed assessment saw the council withdrawing funding for the placement as it concluded the woman was able to self-fund her care.
The care home then upped its fees by £700 a week and backdated the increase. The home said the fee rise was due to a change in the woman’s needs, but the ombudsman found “little evidence” the extra care was needed or delivered.
The woman had savings to pay for her care, but her son was unable to pay for the home as he did not have access to her funds. He tried to become a court-appointed deputy to manage her financial affairs but his mother died before this was completed.
The watchdog concluded the home had “charged a vulnerable woman several thousands of pounds for a service it never delivered”. The investigation also found the council had caused “injustice” as a proper assessment of the woman’s needs would have prevented her ever being “exposed” to the actions of the care provider.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Worcestershire County Council remained responsible for this woman’s care throughout her time at the care home. Neither the woman nor her family were in any position to arrange her care for her, and were certainly in no position to pay for it.
“Had social workers assessed her needs properly from the outset, much of the distress caused to the family could have been avoided. Instead the council left the woman and her family to deal with the care home alone.”
King said the council had accepted his recommendations to remedy the injustice and distress caused to the woman’s family. This means the council will apologise to the woman’s son and pay him £1,000 in recognitions of the distress caused. The extra care costs incurred will also be refunded to the woman’s estate.