Creative Support Limited care provider found at fault for poor quality of care

Decision date: 19/11/19

What happened

Mr X complained to Creative Support Limited on behalf of his son about the quality of care it provided him with. Mr X claimed that the problems began in mid 2017 and that he received no response to the complaint he raised in January 2018. He complained again in February and met with the care provider and recorded that the support had improved.

Mr X made another complaint in August as his son was experiencing difficulties with a few of his support workers. He also felt that recommendations made by an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) were being ignored. He met with the care provider in October and then again in January, but nothing came of either.

Mr X complained for the last time in February and Creative Support ceased providing care for Mr X’s son in February, having reduced the hours to 3 a week, on the grounds that the family would only allow one member of staff to work with him.

On April 4th, Creative Support wrote to Mr X and accepted liability for a number of the complaints that he had made. This included acknowledging that it should have raised safeguarding concerns after his son had said he might kill himself and inappropriate care that had been provided by its staff. Some were minor, some were about governance of the organisation, the absence of an emergency number, staff churn, missed reviews, missing paperwork, use of 1.5 out of the 10.5 hrs for administration, reliability of staff, feebleness of prompting.

It did not accept that it had received his complaint before a meeting on 13 February 2018 or that it had been wrong for an officer to say he had been on annual leave, despite Mr X not having leave and having to provide support to his son because of its failings.

After the long list of acknowledgements of its wrongdoings, the care provider offered to pay Mr and Mrs X £250 each for the distress it had caused them and offered £500 to their son.

The son’s local authority increased his support by 27 hours a week in April and changed his accommodation but it was not clear whether the care provider complained about, continued. The likelihood is that it did not.

Mr and Mrs X did not respond to this offer and so Creative Support did not pay them anything.

The parents wrote to the care provider in May to say that it had failed to address:

  • the complaints set out in their letter of 3 February 2019;
  • complaints about a Manager;
  • the basis of their son’s support;
  • the issue of banked/overcharged hours between 2015 and 2017;
  • overcharged invoices dated 22 January and 28 February 2019;
  • the notification of an increase in the hourly rate charged;
  • the level of compensation;
  • the fact that the care provider had invoiced their son for 10.5 hours every week but did not always provide this.

Creative Support responded to this and revised three invoices in July to rectify the number of hours and to reduce the hourly rate from £15.29 to £13.99.

Mr X estimated that the care provider could not evidence up to 200 hours of care that it had formally invoiced for. He met with Creative Support again in April and received a letter from them in August confirming what had been said. The letter said that Mr X had accepted that Creative Support had sometimes provided more care than agreed and that he had subsequently agreed that only 50% of the 200 hours needed to be honoured (100 hrs). It went on to say it had agreed to the terms suggested for resolution and that it had created a contact sheet for use of 100 banked hours, 17 of which had been used already.

In July, the care provider sent Mr X a cheque for £1,161.71 (83 x £13.99) which he returned. He said that Creative Support should pay him £2,560.17 (183 x £13.99) as he had only agreed to waive the other 100 banked hours on specific conditions which had not ever been met by the care provider.

What was found

The Ombudsman considered the offered restitution insufficient with regard to the injustice that the provider had caused. Mr and Mrs X have been caused significant stress and trouble and their son has clearly suffered from the care provider’s failings.

Remedies

The Ombudsman could not find a basis on which to suggest Creative Support pay more than the £1,161.71 it had offered to pay, the evidence being clearly that an agreement had been reached.

However the care provider agreed that within four weeks, it would in any event :

  • Refund the £1,161.71 for the banked hours and pay him £1,500 for its acknowledged failings on top
  • Pays Mr and Mrs X £500 for their time and trouble

Points for the public, service users, service providers, families, advocates etc

It’s important to note that when a person takes their budget in the form of direct payments, the council is not responsible for monitoring the performance of the PROVIDER, because the person has chosen to become their own commissioner.

The council funding the care however, IS responsible for reviewing the client, reviewing the question whether the budget is meeting the person’s needs. CASCAIDr is therefore surprised that there is no mention of the council standing behind this arrangement, other than the mention that the person’s accommodation was moved and that the budget was eventually increased to 27 hours a week.

When a private purchaser has a contract with a provider, that contract can lead to a dispute, and often the contract will have a clause in it for dispute resolution. The law of compromise is that if a person reaches a resolution of a dispute, then the agreement for compromise is itself an agreement that wipes out the original dispute. The LGO’s approach to the reimbursement not being enough, on its own, nicely underlines that whatever the position regarding the agreement, the LGO still has jurisdiction to regard the absence of any compensatory element still as wrong and inadequate to make up for the administrative failing.

If you want help, please consider seeking advice from CASCAIDr via our referral form on the top bar menu of the site.

The full Local Government Ombudsman report on the actions of Creative Support Limited can be found here:

https://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/adult-care-services/domiciliary-care/18-016-768