Nottinghamshire County Council has apologised to the family of a man with dementia who was placed in a care home as a temporary measure and then left for five months.
The man had been placed in the care home by his wife while she struggled to look after her son who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The placement was supposed to be temporary, but after two weeks the wife felt she could not cope with the man at home.
Nottinghamshire County Council believed the man could return home with additional care calls, but neglected to complete a review despite his change of circumstances, and did not assess his wife’s needs as a carer.
As a result, the man was left in the care home for five months before the council eventually reviewed his case and found he did not have the mental capacity to decide where to live or to make a decision about his finances.
In his investigation of the incident, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, accused the council of not having any regard for the man’s human rights.
‘The man had a right to respect for his family life, and to enjoy his existing home peacefully. But the council did not have any regard for the man’s human rights during those five months he was away from his family,’ he said.
‘The council could have identified these problems during its own investigation of the complaint, but it failed to acknowledge the errors and the impact they have caused.’
On top of the man being left in the home for five months, Mr King’s investigation also found that the family was charged for the man’s care – incurring debts of more than £15,000. The care home has chased the family for payment and threatened them with bailiff action.
Responding to the investigation, Melanie Brooks, corporate director for adult social care and health, said the council ‘wholeheartedly accept all the recommendations in the report and apologise to the family for our mistakes in their situation.’
She continued: ‘We are committed to improve and have already started acting on the recommendations. We have been working directly with the team to ensure they are working within the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) to promote well-being. MCA documentation has been revised and briefings given to staff with a new provider coming in to give ongoing training across the service.’
‘We have developed an action plan to ensure that all the recommendations in the report are met. We will also update members on the action plan at Governance and Ethics Committee,’ she added.
Mr King welcomed these steps and said he was pleased the council had ‘already started acting on my recommendations to improve its service.’