Ms C complained that from September 2013 her relative, Ms D, who has learning difficulties, was not provided with adequate care by Newport City Council (“the Council”) and it left her without support. In particular, it did not assess her capacity to oversee her financial affairs or arrange for an appointee to do so.
The Ombudsman found that a formal capacity assessment was not carried out by the Council for a period of almost four years, despite it identifying on five separate occasions that Ms D was vulnerable and did not understand basic money calculations. The Council left Ms D to handle her own financial affairs and at risk of exploitation. Further to this, the Ombudsman found that when the Council was made aware of Ms D being potentially exploited financially, it did not make a safeguarding referral or investigate the concerns that had been raised seriously enough. However, the Ombudsman found that overall the general support offered to Ms D by the Council was reasonable.
The Ombudsman said that Ms D should have been safeguarded financially by the Council and it was a significant injustice that she was not. The Council accepted the findings in the report and acknowledged its role in the failings of the case.
The Council agreed to take the following actions:
Within one month:
a) Write appropriate letters of apology for the failings identified in this report.
b) Make a payment to Ms D of an agreed amount for the identified failing of not adequately assessing her need for financial safeguards between September 2013 and April 2017.
c) Make a payment of £500 to Ms C in recognition of the distress caused by its failure as outlined in (b) and ignoring her correspondence.
Within three months:
d) Ensure that arrangements are in place so consideration is given to financial management during its annual review of cases, and determine how it will review concerns it receives in relation to financial issues and capacity.
e) Discuss the contents of this report with the Community Adult Learning Disability Team to identify learning areas.
f) Ensure arrangements are in place so relevant staff are reminded of the need to take accurate notes and evidence the rationale for decisions in relation to capacity.
Within six months:
g) Demonstrate that all relevant Social Workers have either recently undergone or will undergo refresher training in relation to the Mental Capacity Act and how to undertake and record capacity assessments.