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Man left in care home for five months was denied basic human rights

Michael King

Nottinghamshire County Council left a man in a care home for five months without having regard for his basic human rights, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found.

The Ombudsman said the man, who lives with dementia, had been unable to return home to his family due to the council not completing a review or assessment despite a change in his circumstances.

The Ombudsman said the council did not complete a mental capacity assessment of the man to find out whether he could understand his situation, make a decision about his care or support, or decide whether he would like to remain in the home. It also failed to assess his capacity to understand and agree to the care home costs.

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When the council eventually carried out an assessment five months later, it found he did not have the mental capacity to decide where to live or to make a decision about his finances. Despite this, the family was charged for the man’s care for the time he was in the home – incurring debts of more than £15,000, which the care home has chased them for and threatened bailiff action if they did not pay.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, (pictured) said: “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.

“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. However, I welcome the steps the council agreed to take during my investigation, and am pleased it has already started acting on my recommendations to improve its service.”

The council has agreed to apologise to the family and has taken over responsibility for paying the outstanding care home fees. It will also pay the wife £500 to acknowledge the distress caused by the situation, and the daughter £250 to acknowledge her time and trouble in bringing the complaint.

Melanie Brooks, Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We wholeheartedly accept all the recommendations in the report and apologise to the family for our mistakes in their situation.

“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.”

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The author Lee Peart

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