Ombudsman investigations triggers reminder to councils to check their care charging procedures

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued its findings into two complaints about North Yorkshire County Council this week. The complaints were in relation to two North Yorkshire families who paid over the odds for relatives’ care because the county council gave them inaccurate information. The Ombudsman upheld the complaints after it found issues with a number of the council’s processes.

Contrary to statutory guidelines, in both cases the council told the families they would need to make arrangements to pay the additional ‘top up fees’ directly with the care home rather then with the council.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:-

“These two cases highlight exactly why councils need to give families clear and accurate information upfront about the financial arrangements, the care available and its cost when placing relatives in care settings.

“Just this week the Care Quality Commission published details of its survey, which found that choosing care for loved ones is one of the most stressful life events for people. This stress can only be compounded when councils offer confusing and conflicting information at crucial times in the process.

 “There is much that other councils can learn from our investigation findings that could help clear up the fog of confusion around top-up fees. I would urge councils’ adult social care teams to read our 2015 top-up fee Focus Report and review their own policies to ensure they meet the demands of the Care Act.”

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