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Care Act contravention

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found that a local authority failed to meet a care home resident’s needs after his capital fell below the capital support threshold.

Merton council had assessed the gentleman and found he had eligible needs after his capital fell below the £23,250 limit but left him funding his own care.

This was deemed to be an injustice to the care resident as the council was under a duty to meet his needs.

The council had been trying to move the gentleman to a cheaper home during the first Covid-19 lockdown, which the ombudsman found there was no case to do. His daughter, who had power of attorney for his finances and welfare, was against the move and in addition the original care home and a council social worker also raised concerns about the impact of moving him. The ombudsman found that Merton did not assess the impact of moving him, meaning the council had not provided evidence of a suitable alternative placement.

The ombudsman also found fault with the council for not pursuing an NHS offer in June 2020 to fund the individual’s care in the nursing unit of the original care home as an interim measure. This would have postponed any decision about moving until he had had an NHS continuing healthcare assessment, which had to be delayed because of the pandemic.

Merton council agreed to the ombudsman’s recommendations to:

  • refund, with interest, the residents care costs from the point his capital fell below the threshold, minus his assessed contribution

  • pay £400 to his daughter for the distress caused to her

  • ensure it does a person-centred risk assessment before deciding a person’s needs can be met in a different care home

A Merton Council spokesperson said: “We accept the findings of the Ombudsman report and have already responded by putting in place the recommended actions. We continue to implement further actions into practice and learning from this ruling.”

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