HAMPSHIRE County Council failed to meet the care needs of a woman after leaving her without support, the local government ombudsman has found.

The complaint said that Mrs X, as the woman is referred to in the report, has medical conditions which affect her physical and mental health. She has restricted mobility and experiences pain. But Hampshire County Council has been criticised for poorly documented care planning and how it responded to the woman’s complaints.

A live-in carer also left the woman after she was verbally aggressive after being refused a meal at midnight – and she was without care for two days.

In 2022, she underwent surgery on her back and stayed in the hospital for rehabilitation. During her hospital stay, she complained to the council about a lack of support, saying that she “had felt bullied by a social worker, who had accused her of lying”.

After receiving the complaint in November 2022, the council said it followed a “strengths-based approach” but recognised that “had not been her experience and it had not always met her desired outcomes” and referred her to its older adults team for a new care needs assessment.

The council assessed Mrs X’s needs while in hospital in December. It identified the need for 24-hour support when she left the hospital and suggested a temporary placement in a care home while it assessed her longer-term needs.

However, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s report said she rejected the support and felt “being left in a care home” “was not suitable for her needs”.

Therefore, on January 3, the council agreed to provide a live-in carer via a care provider and arranged for a deep clean of her home before she returned.

Before starting the live-in care, the care provider appointed to look after Mrs X raised concerns about supporting her, saying that despite the hospital taking her out to smoke, the live-in care would not be able to do that.

The provider also said that the person consumed alcohol during the day, affecting her mobility, and did not go to bed until 1am, making it difficult for the live-in carer to manage.

Mrs X left the hospital on January 9, and two days later, the care provider ended the arrangement and suggested the complaint to call an ambulance “if she could not manage on her own”.

According to the council’s records, Mrs X was admitted to hospital at 4am on that same day. She called the council twice on the evening of January 11, complaining about the way she had been treated.

The care provider told the council that the live-in carer was removed after Mrs X asked the carer to “sit with her while she was smoking in bed” and “make a meal for her at midnight and was verbally aggressive when they refused”.

As a result, the county council decided not to provide a live-in carer since a lone worker “would be at risk of allegations” from the person. Therefore, the community response team started visiting Mrs X to provide her care until another provider took over, which started on January 16.

Mrs X objected to the council’s decision and said she needed a live-in carer.  However, despite the objection, the new provider started visiting and provided four daily visits to provide personal hygiene, a “habitable home environment,” help access the local community or public transport, and meals.

As a result of the multiple changes to her care plan, Mrs X complained to the council on January 27. The council then spoke to her about her and responded in writing on February 24.  The council said the decision to provide four calls a day when the live-in carer left was taken with “management oversight, had been risked assessed and was felt to meet her needs”.

In March, the council reassessed Mrs X and concluded that the plan was correct.  They also provided eight hours of double-handed support a week to help Mrs X go shopping, take part in social activities and arrange a visit to a care home once a week so she could participate in activities.

However, Mrs X remained unhappy with how the council handled her case and took her complaint to the next level.

This resulted in another assessment in June, during which the county council agreed to update her care plan, offer new live-in care, and provide a weekly personal budget of £900.

After arranging the service, the council informed Mrs X that if it failed, another care provider would offer four daily calls. She acknowledged the consequences and signed a behavioural contract.

In October 2023, when assessed again, the council decided that the live-in care was “working well” and left the arrangement in place.

As a result of the complaint, the ombudsman said that the council’s care planning was “poorly documented, making it difficult to understand its decisions”.  It added: “Mrs X was left without care for 48 hours when a live-in carer left, but that was not due to fault by the council. The council’s responses to Mrs X’s complaints contained inaccurate and misleading information. The council needs to apologise to Mrs X for the distress it has caused her.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “We always try to do our best to get things right first time for Hampshire residents, and we take any issues raised very seriously. 

“Where we haven’t been able to resolve things directly with the members of the public, we work closely with the local government ombudsman to address the issue, to learn from our mistakes and improve our services along the way. 

“In this case, Hampshire County Council has accepted in full the recommendations of the ombudsman and we have apologised to the individual. Steps have also already been taken to apply the findings of this case.”