William Eichler 08 June 2022

Disabled woman left without care for 12 months, Ombudsman finds

Disabled woman left without care for 12 months, Ombudsman finds image
Image: fizkes/Shutterstock.com.

Worcestershire County Council has been criticised after it left a woman who had had a stroke without appropriate care for a year.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that the council referred the woman to a company acting on their behalf to help her recruit a personal assistant. However, the woman struggled to fill out financial forms because of her disability.

The woman’s social care assessment was finalised in August 2021, setting out the support she needed, but the woman said this was incorrect.

A direct payment agreement was then sent to the woman to sign, but she could not do so because of her disability. She was eventually helped to sign, but the council further delayed setting up the payments.

The direct payments had not been set up by the time the Ombudsman started investigating in January 2022.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: ‘The council’s failure meant a vulnerable woman with serious health problems was left without funding to meet her essential care needs for more than a year.

‘While I appreciate the pressures councils are under, and particularly during the time in question, the delay in this case is unacceptable. I am also concerned the council sought to blame the woman for not co-operating with its officers, when there was no evidence to support this.’

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has asked the council to pay the woman £3,000 to recognise the distress caused by not having the right care.

Mark Fitton, interim strategic director of people for Worcestershire County Council, said: 'We have apologised to the resident who raised the complaint regarding their direct payment and their support needs not being met. Throughout this process, we have offered the resident a number of alternative reablement options that would ensure their care needs are met including the use of care providers, but the resident has made it clear to us that direct payments remain their preferred option, so we are continuing to liaise with them over how to best support them going forward.

'We have accepted the recommendations given to the County Council from the Local Government Ombudsman as part of their report, and they are being worked through, including a wider review of the direct payments service. The Local Government report will be presented to Cabinet in July.'

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