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Ombudsman slams council for causing considerable distress and harm to a disabled woman following a 60% cut to care package

20 June 2019

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has found that the cut by Bolton Council to a disabled woman’s care package from 67 to 25 hours a week left her unable to keep herself safe and properly medicated at weekends, harming her health and wellbeing.

Council assessor found to be was intent on reducing her hours, did not consider her fluctuating needs and used her failure to recruit a PA to justify cuts to care package.

Ms X, who lives alone, is registered blind and has numerous health conditions and disabilities, was subject to an assessment carried out by a practitioner with no training in visual impairment who intended to reduce her hours before meeting her.

The assessor did not listen to her and did not consider her fluctuating needs and the cumulative impact of her health conditions, despite clear information on this being provided by Ms X and her personal assistant and in previous assessments by a social worker and OT.

The practitioner also used Ms X’s failure to recruit a personal assistant to justify cutting her support. The LGSCO also raised concerns that other service users “had similarly been caused significant injustice” by the council.

For example, the complaint response said that Ms X was not known to speech and language therapy, and there was no evidence to support her claim that her needs had deteriorated.

However, the Ombudsman noted that the council records showed that she was known to speech and language therapy and contained evidence that her needs had deteriorated.

The reduction of Ms X’s care package caused her significant problems. She recorded a log of 75 accidents that she had over almost a year from the reduction, including numerous falls, causing bangs to the head, bruising and sprains, burns while cooking and several cuts from broken glass and knives.

The council has accepted all the ombudsman’s recommendations, which included that it:

  • apologise to Ms X and pay her £3,800 in acknowledgment of the “significant and avoidable harm, distress, time and trouble it caused when it failed to provide sufficient support and repeatedly failed to what she said”;
  • reinstate the 67 hours of care pending reassessment’
  • arrange for an experienced social worker with knowledge and understanding of sight loss to reassess Ms X’s needs;
  • review cases over the past 12 months where people with complex needs have complained about reductions in budgets.

Source: Ombudsman lambasts council for using ‘flawed assessment’ to cut disabled woman’s care by 60% available @ www.communitycare.co.uk

For more information and a copy of the LGSCO’s report see Disabled woman had care package reduced by more than half following flawed assessment by Bolton council available @ www.lgo.org.uk 

The LGSCO investigates unresolved complaints about all adult care services – including care that is privately funded as well as publicly arranged.

The LGSO is free to use, impartial and independent. It publishes reports of its investigations to share lessons learned and help improve public services.

All its decisions are published at www.lgo.org.uk

See also our free factsheet Complaining about local authority decisions

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