William Eichler 01 September 2022

Ombudsman cautions councils against multiple care home contracts

Ombudsman cautions councils against multiple care home contracts image
Image: pikselstock/Shutterstock.com.

Local authorities have been cautioned against allowing the care homes they work with to have subsidiary contracts with clients.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman issued the warning after an investigation revealed that Leeds City Council had allowed Indigo Care Services Ltd to have a second contract with a woman it had placed in the provider’s Paisley Lodge home.

The woman’s family complained to the Ombudsman about a number of issues, including their mother looking unkempt during one visit, items of clothing and other possessions going missing, and only being allowed ‘window visits’ at certain times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also said that they found the payment and funding arrangements confusing.

Ombudsman’s investigation found that, contrary to statutory guidance, the care home had a second contract in place with the family between June and November 2020 to make up the difference between what it charged the council and its private rate.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: ‘The woman’s family were given no choice but to sign the second contract with the home as a condition of acceptance of the care home placement, with the council’s full knowledge this was taking place. At the time, it was the council’s responsibility – not the family’s – to arrange their mother’s care, so they should not have been asked to do this.

‘This has caused unnecessary distress and confusion for the family at what was already a difficult time.

‘I am pleased the council and care provider have both agreed to my recommendations to improve their contracting arrangements so in future other families are not caused the same frustration.’

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: ‘We welcome and accept the Ombudsman’s findings and we are now looking at reviewing our processes to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations. We are sorry for the confusion experienced by the family as a result of two contracts being in place at the same time.’

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