Ombudsman orders council to compensate elderly woman for failures by contracted carers

Havering Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Havering Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Havering Council was ordered to compensate an elderly woman after carers she was paying the council for repeatedly showed up late or not at all.

The Local Government Ombudsman told the council to apologise to the care user and her daughter, compensate them £100 each and waive half of her care fees for five months.

Carers for the woman, referred to only as Mrs H to protect her identity, were employed by Allied Healthcare but commissioned by the council.

Mrs H was meant to receive visits between 9.30am and 10.30am and between 4.30pm and 5.30pm every day but carers were late 75 per cent of the time, in the worst case by two and a half hours.

They also failed to show up “on many occasions” – in one instance missing two visits in a row – and there is evidence to suggest they sometimes failed to give Mrs H her medication.

After investigating the matter, the ombudsman told the council to waive half of the fees from September 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019 due to the poor service received.

The council was also instructed to apologise and pay both Mrs H and her daughter £100 for their “distress, time and trouble” over the issue.

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The ombudsman explained: “When a council commissions another organisation to provide services on its behalf it remains responsible for those services and for the actions of the organisation providing them.

“So, although I found fault with the actions of the care provider, I have made recommendations to the council.”

The company Allied Healthcare transferred the care service to Allied Health Services in November 2018.

Councillor Jason Frost, cabinet member for health and adult care services, said: “We’re sorry for the distress caused to our resident and have accepted the ombudsman’s findings and complied with the actions requested of us.

“We agreed that staff should have some flexibility around their start times, especially as some may be delayed while on other visits, in which case they must inform the office who will let the person know.

“Our relationship with Allied Healthcare remains strong, and having addressed this situation, we continue to work together to deliver good quality care packages for our residents.”

Allied Healthcare did not respond to a request for comment.