Council rapped by Ombudsman over handling of care home relative ban
Liverpool City Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman after a daughter was banned from a care home for complaining about her mother’s treatment.
The woman was banned by care staff from visiting Mersey Parks home in Liverpool after she complained about the way her mother was fed, washed and looked after. The home, which was then run by Bupa, was one of the 110 care homes transferred to HC-One last year (see Bupa transfers 110 care homes to HC-One). When the woman complained to the council, instead of investigating, it told her to raise her concerns with Bupa.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Councils and care providers with open, transparent and mature complaints handling processes should welcome the feedback complaints bring. In this case, rather than act positively on the concerns raised by the daughter, staff acted defensively by banning her.
“When awarding care contracts to independent providers, councils need to remember they can outsource the care but cannot outsource the responsibility for that care. In such circumstances, I will find any fault by a care provider to be fault by the council. I’m pleased Liverpool City Council has accepted my recommendations, and, while the provider is no longer running the unit involved, I welcome its readiness to accept my recommendations and learn from this case.”
Judy Downey, chair of the Relatives & Resident Association, told CHP: “This kind of behaviour causes enormous distress to families. Because of this kind of reaction, we find that most people with partners or parents in care, are too worried about possible repercussions of this kind, to speak up when they have concerns.
“The Bupa home, like too many others, failed to have a responsive and effective complaints procedure. The LGO found fault with both the resident’s local authority, Liverpool City Council, and the care home. Instead of Liverpool protecting its citizen’s rights, it abdicated all responsibility.”
A Liverpool City Council spokesman said: “We have fully accepted the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and apologised to the complainant. We have reviewed our own policies and procedures and have asked all of our care home providers to do the same as part of our commitment to making sure a similar situation can’t arise in the future.”
Bupa declined to comment when approached by CHP.