A man with dementia was left for six months without proper financial support resulting in him regularly wetting himself, an Ombudsman report has found.
The report says that Ealing Council was at fault for causing an injustice to a man referred to in documents as Mr C, after it took months to properly respond to correspondence made to them on his behalf.
Detailing the events, the report says that the person looking after the man, referred to Mr B, made a complaint about the council’s assessment of his finances back in January 2023 but failed to properly to issues raised until May. At this time, incontinence pads used to help with Mr C’s habit of wetting himself were not provided as the care home he was in did not supply them and he could not afford them personally due to the council’s incorrect assessment.
In the report, the Ombudsman said: “The council repeatedly delayed responding to Mr B’s communication about the financial assessment and reassessment. This is a fault. Mr B initially raised his concerns in January. The Council completed the reassessment at the end of January 2023, but it did not address the questions Mr B raised.
“Mr B then repeatedly chased for a response to his complaint Council throughout February, March, and April. The Council did not issue a substantive response until May, and the issue was not resolved until June. This Council’s fault caused Mr B frustration and he was put to time and trouble chasing a response to his complaint.”
According to the report, the difference of just £65 a month would have saved Mr C from months of humiliation, however administrative lethargy meant that no solution was found for the severely ill man until June. Although the mistakes were eventually corrected, the length of time was found as a fault of the council by the Ombudsman and unacceptable.
Another concern raised by the council’s conduct was the fact that the officer Mr B made a formal complaint about responding to the complaint herself, which is said had not been upheld. This is wrong as she is judged to not be impartial in her own case, the Ombudsman did report that she has now been informed of her error, however, it is still judged as an irregularity.
Mr B told the council in April about Mr C’s incontinence pull up pads. The council did not take any steps to contact the care home to find out more about this issue until the review in July. This delay is fault especially as Mr B explained Mr C was regularly wetting himself.
The council also failed to communicate with Mr B appropriately after the review meeting, and he was put to further inconvenience chasing for updates. It only contacted the GP at the end of August and made a referral after prompting from Mr B.
Although the council says it had designated the required pads as a health need and should not be penalised for any delays by the NHS. However, the Ombudsman concluded that it should have acted sooner in contacting the relevant organisations when Mr B brought the matter to its attention in April.
The report says that the council’s delay leaves Mr C with some uncertainty that the matter may have been resolved sooner and that the council needs to continue liaising with health services to seek a resolution in this matter.
As part of making amends, the Ombudsman has ordered Ealing Council to:
- Apologise to Mr C for his uncertainty.
- Pay Mr B and Mr C £250 each.
- Continue to liaise with health services to resolve the matter surrounding Mr C’s incontinence pull up pads. It should keep Mr B appropriately updated.
The Council has also agreed to issue written reminders to relevant staff by 17 January 2024 to ensure they appropriately communicate with service users or their representatives about issues to do with financial assessments and their care without undue delay.