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Council criticised for handling of blind woman's case

By Alex Moore | Telford | Health | Published:

The social care watchdog has criticised Telford and Wrekin Council for its handling of an elderly blind woman’s case after she left hospital.

A senior council boss has agreed to apologise in writing and pay £600 compensation to her family.

An anonymised report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO), which upheld the complaint, says: “There was fault in the way the council managed the social care needs assessment and support planning process for ‘Mrs Z’ when she returned home.

“The failure to offer Mrs Z’s daughter a carer’s assessment, and the poor handling of her complaint, was also fault.”

The complaint was made by Mrs Z’s daughter, referred to as Miss X, and the report says there was “poor communication” with both women.

“Miss X says the care package was inadequate and it did not meet her mother’s needs,” it says.

“Some care calls were late or cancelled. The social worker’s needs assessment did not include essential medical information which affected the support Mrs Z required with eating and drinking.”

Miss X claimed she and her mother “could not make fully-informed decisions” as a result, and the problems implementing the care package “caused Mrs Z significant distress”.

“She was insufficiently hydrated and fed, and found it difficult to settle in the evenings,” the report says.

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“Miss X wants the council to fully acknowledge what went wrong and make improvements to the service.”

Miss X pursued a complaint against the council from late 2016 until the following summer, then complained to the LGO in 2018.

Mrs Z, who was originally discharged from hospital in May 2016, died seven months later.

The Ombudsman said Telford and Wrekin Council “accepts it handled Miss X’s complaint poorly.”

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The council admitted it delayed investigating the complaint, and did not identify early enough that part of her complaint was an NHS matter, not a council matter.

These faults “put [Miss X] to significant extra time and trouble and caused distress at a difficult time”, the report says.

Furthermore Mrs Z’s Care and Support Plan was finalised and offered to local care providers “without any further discussion with Miss X”.

In response to the draft decision, Telford and Wrekin Council told the Ombudsman all front-line adult social care staff have received further care assessment and support planning training and is revising the assessment process for carers.

The council promised to arrange for a senior manager to send Miss X a written apology which acknowledges the faults found in our investigation and “pay [her] £300 to recognise the distress and an additional £300 for her time and trouble in pursuing the complaint”.

Alex Moore

By Alex Moore
@TelfordLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Telford.

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