Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

Suffolk County Council has been hit by criticism from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) after a woman was wrongly charged for care she never received.

Care providers, arranged by the council, incorrectly logged hours of arrival and departure then charged a full price despite not delivering the assessed needs.

The visits should have come three times a day and lasted between 30 and 45 minutes, but records suggest on some occasions agency carers only spent 20 minutes with her.

The council failed to inform the woman about the carers minimum charging policy, which the LGO said was its responsibility, and meaning that they should now reimburse the overpayments and review the situation.

Michael King, an LGO representative, explained: “Had the council managed the woman’s expectations by telling her about the provider’s minimum charge policy, she could have chosen to make alternative arrangements; something which she has since done.

“I would now urge Suffolk County Council to review my report and put in place the recommendations I have made.”

The woman was assessed as needing 12 hours 15 minutes care a week, provided by the agency which the council arranged.

However, within a month, the woman’s representative noticed the carers were entering incorrect times of arrival and departure on the records kept at her home.

The council told the Ombudsman that the care agency had a minimum visit time of 30 minutes, but there is no record of the woman being told this before the care started.

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson commented: “We fully accept the Ombudsman’s recommendations and would like to offer our sincere apology to our customer for not informing her of her care provider’s charging rules and reviewing the case properly.

“We are constantly improving how we support people so will ensure that we learn from this case.”

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