Essex County Council has come under fire from a local government watchdog after staff failed to contact a family when their mother was admitted to hospital.
The Local Government and Social Services Ombudsman said ‘Mrs C’ was admitted to hospital in February 2021 after her mental and physical health deteriorated, but a council social worker assigned to her case n could not be contacted.
Essex County Council failed to give clear and complete information about who would pay for Ms C’s care after she was discharged and delayed carrying out a reassessment, according to an ombudsman’s report.
According to the report, the county council apologized to Ms C’s family and paid for 33 weeks of care, between March and October 2021.
A spokesman for Essex County Council said in a statement: ‘We have acknowledged and accepted the findings of the Local Government and Social Services Ombudsman and the recommendations contained in the report.
“We remain committed to ensuring that all of our residents receive the highest quality care and are committed to learning to improve.”
After Ms C was hospitalized, her daughter tried to phone and email the social worker but received no response or away message, the report said.
Her other daughter called the social work team number and was told to wait for the social worker to call her back.
The social worker replied two days later, apologized and said she was on leave, the email was not in her inbox and someone from the team would have had to deal with the investigation.
The ombudsman concluded that the council was responsible for its poor communication with Ms C’s family when they ‘needed advice at a stressful time’.
However, at that time the hospital was responsible for Ms C’s discharge and did not inform the council or advise the family, the report said.
A reassessment of Mrs C was also carried out in August by the social worker, whereas she had been promised for March.
The report also says the social worker was “unclear” about who would pay for the first four weeks of care and that in October 2021 Ms C owed the council over £11,000.
However, the council then commissioned Ms C’s care for a total of 33 weeks, saving her around £8,500, according to the report.
The family also complained about the lack of help from the council’s brokerage team, but the Ombudsman did not find fault with the actions of the brokerage team and said that the social worker’s council that they could help the family find a retirement home was “misleading” and “led to frustration.”
According to the report, the Ombudsman considered that the establishment of 33 weeks of care and the apology had compensated for the injustice and that no further redress was necessary.