LGO: Poor social care practice letting down vulnerable adults

Care providers are not going through proper processes, forcing vulnerable people into situations against their will, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has today revealed.

In a new report, ‘The Right to Decide’, the Ombudsman stated that “very real concerns” were highlighted that people in care are not being treated correctly when decisions are being made on behalf of those who don’t have the mental capacity to choose how they are cared for.

Some of the problems the report highlights include carers not carrying out or delaying assessments to determine whether someone has the capacity to make important decisions.

It also found that often poor decisions were being made without consulting with friends and families first. Issues were also raised with the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) system. The Ombudsman reported finding cases where people had been left in care homes without proper assessments carried out for years, potentially depriving them of their freedom.

More than 1,200 adult social care complaints were received by the Ombudsman in 2016-17, and up to one in five of those complaints involved concerns regarding mental capacity or DoLS. Even more troubling was that following an investigation, the Ombudsman upheld 69% of those complaints.

“The people who these measures are designed to protect are all too often being let down by poor practice,” said Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

“And, while I appreciate the complex emotional and practical decisions social workers need to make, the people they look after are still entitled to be treated fairly, and have their assessments undertaken correctly and in a timely manner.

“People should have the right to make choices for themselves unless they have been assessed as not having capacity,” King concluded. “We have issued this report to highlight where things are going wrong, so we can help authorities get things right and improve services for people.”

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