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Watchdog criticises Suffolk council over claims workers cut woman’s care visits short

PUBLISHED: 10:22 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:22 22 November 2017

The Ombudsman laid out his concerns in a new report. Stock image. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Ombudsman laid out his concerns in a new report. Stock image. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A Suffolk woman forked out almost £200 a week for domestic care despite agency workers cutting visits short, a government watchdog has found.

Visits to her home should have happened three times a day and lasted between 30 and 45 minutes.

But according to an investigation carried out by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, carers only spent 20 minutes with her on some occasions.

Now the watchdog is urging Suffolk County Council – which arranged the care – to take action and refund her.

Chiefs were also criticised in the report for failing to tell the woman about the care provider’s minimum charging policy.

Ombudsman Michael King said: “People can only make informed choices about the care they receive if they are given the correct information at the outset.

“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.”

According to her care plan, the woman was assessed as needing 12 hours and 15 minutes of care per week. This was made up of 45 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes in the afternoon or evening. However, within a month the woman’s daughter – who lodged the complaint – noticed carers were noting down incorrect times for when they arrived and left on records kept at her home.

Despite this the woman paid the full cost – and when charged by the council, she challenged them about it.

The care agency told the council it was taking staff less time to perform tasks – but said they were confident that the woman was receiving the right level of care.

Council chiefs told the Ombudsman the agency had a minimum visit time of 30 minutes.

However, there is no record of the woman being told this before her care started.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “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’re constantly improving how we support people so will ensure that we learn from this case.”

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