A man was banned from visiting his partner’s mother in her care home when Nottinghamshire County Council failed to go through the correct procedures, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The Ombudsman’s investigation into the man’s complaint found the council did not carry out a risk assessment or ask the mother’s wishes before banning him, took several years to review the restriction and then failed to tell the care home it had lifted the ban.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“This case goes to the heart of the principle that a person in care has the right to make choices for themselves. Their views should be taken into account so decisions made about them are done properly. It highlights the need for councils and care homes to go through the proper procedures from the outset.
“Nottinghamshire County Council could have avoided many of the problems experienced here if they had either asked the woman’s wishes or carried out a proper risk assessment at the earliest opportunity.
“Local authorities who commission care are accountable for the actions of the providers delivering the service on their behalf. They need to ensure those providers adhere to the same standards of record keeping and accuracy they would expect from their own staff.”
Having lived with her daughter, and the daughter’s partner, the mother was placed in a care home in 2013 when they could no longer cope. The council’s concerns arose after the daughter’s partner admitted he had been close to losing his temper physically with the mother. It asked him not to visit the home, but never clarified how long this would be for.
The council did not formally review the restriction until March 2016, although this had not stopped the man from visiting occasionally. It failed to tell the care home it had lifted the ban on the man visiting.
The care home did not agree with the council lifting the ban. It carried out its own risk assessment in May 2016, which reinforced the ban. The Ombudsman’s investigation found this assessment was not robust enough; it did not substantiate care home allegations of the man being verbally abusive to staff and it did not show any current risk to the woman. The Ombudsman also found the care home made some inaccurate statements, including claiming an independent advocate had asked the woman if she wanted the man to visit. Something not supported by the advocate’s email.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.
In this case, the council agreed to commission an independent advocate to obtain the woman’s view on seeing the man away from the care home. If she wants to do this, the council should arrange for it to happen and pay the man £300 for failing to do it sooner.
The council will apologise to the man for its failings, and for those of the care home and care provider. It has agreed to consider what it needs to do to prevent this from happening again.