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Council apologises after man wrongly banned from visiting care home

A council has been told to apologise and pay compensation after it wrongly banned a man from visiting his partner’s elderly mother while she was in a care home.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that Nottinghamshire County Council had failed to go through the correct procedures before it made the decision to hand out the ban.

It also revealed that the local authority did not carry out proper a risk assessment or asked the mother for her opinions before deciding to ban the man. After that, Nottinghamshire CC took years to review the restriction and then failed to tell the care home that it had lifted the ban.

The Ombudsman said the council has agreed to commission an independent advocate to obtain the woman’s view and pay the man £300 in compensation.

The woman had lived with the man and her daughter, but was placed into care in 2013 when the pair were no longer able to cope with her care. Problems arose after the partner admitted that he had been close to physically losing his temper with his mother-in-law, prompting the council to ban him from the care home.

But this decision was not officially reviewed until March 2016. The care home undertook its own risk assessment in May of that year, but the Ombudsman found that this assessment was not robust enough and did not substantiate care home allegations that the man had been verbally abusive to staff and showed no risk to the woman in care.

“This case goes to the heart of the principle that a person in care has the right to make choices for themselves,” said Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. “Their views should be taken into account so decisions made about them are done properly. It highlights the need for councils and care homes to go through the proper procedures from the outset.

“Nottinghamshire County Council could have avoided many of the problems experienced here if they had either asked the woman’s wishes or carried out a proper risk assessment at the earliest opportunity.

“Local authorities who commission care are accountable for the actions of the providers delivering the service on their behalf,” he concluded. “They need to ensure those providers adhere to the same standards of record keeping and accuracy they would expect from their own staff.”

Sue Batty, adult social care and health director at Nottinghamshire County Council, said the authority was keen to encourage contact between families and their relatives living in residential care homes where possible, and that it worked with families to achieve this in a way that ensures this benefits the resident, their loved ones and friends.

“In this instance, the county council and the care home could clearly have improved how these visiting restrictions were considered and made, which we recognise and apologise for,” she added.

“We are already implementing the recommendations of the Local Government Ombudsman’s report, which include reviewing how we deal with similar issues in the future, ensuring our practices are in line with CCQ guidance.”

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