Services for older people
Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Wrexham County Borough Council
Mrs A complained about the domiciliary care provided to her mother, Mrs B, by a Care Agency in April 2021, which had been commissioned by Wrexham County Borough Council. She complained that the Council was aware of ongoing safeguarding issues with the Care Agency, yet it commissioned them to provide care to her mother and other vulnerable service users putting them at risk. She said that the Council had no clear monitoring and review processes in place and that its complaint investigation was not robust. Mrs A also said that the Council refused, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to conduct a new home assessment to support the direct payments that her mother made when she moved to a new care provider.
The investigation found that the Council was aware of ongoing risks with the Care Agency from the monitoring it carried out in February 2020 and that these echoed the concerns Mrs A raised in April 2021. The Ombudsman was concerned that the Council was unable to provide any documentary evidence that would provide assurances that there was robust and effective monitoring of the Care Agency. The investigation concluded that the administrative failings amounted to maladministration and that the stress and inconvenience caused to Mrs A and her mother was an injustice. The Ombudsman was satisfied that the Council has a monitoring and review process in place and that it demonstrated that it followed its monitoring requirements of the Care Agency after April 2021. However, the Council was unable to demonstrate effective monitoring and review between March 2020 to April 2021 which forms an intrinsic part of the monitoring and review process. As a result, Mrs A was left with the uncertainty of not knowing if effective monitoring had taken place the outcome for her mother would have been different. This was an injustice for both Mrs A and her mother. These parts of Mrs A’s complaint were upheld.
The investigation concluded that the Council’s Stage 2 Investigator’s decision to disregard the Council’s monitoring evidence from February 2020 meant that similarities between then and the concerns that Mrs A were not adequately explored. The investigation concluded that the injustice for Mrs A was the loss of confidence she suffered in the complaint handling process and the inconvenience she was put to in having to pursue her complaint further to obtain answers. The Ombudsman upheld these aspects of Mrs A’s complaint.
The Ombudsman was satisfied with the Council’s explanation that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was unable to conduct a face-to-face assessment in relation to Mrs B. Given that Mrs A’s reason for requesting the increased hours was because the provider did not conduct visits of less than an hour, rather than her mother’s care needs having changed, this part of Mrs A’s complaint was not upheld.
The Ombudsman recommended that the Council apologise to Mrs A and her mother for the failings identified by the investigation and l remind all staff involved in the monitoring report process that documents are to be fully completed before sign-off by the Contracts Manager.