Under Unprecedented Pressure: The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman's Report On COVID And Care

Published date11 March 2022
Law FirmBLM
AuthorEmma Draper

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) has issued a report on the impact of COVID-19 on local authorities and care providers, dealing with the significant increase in pressure on these services caused by COVID-19. The report covers the period 1 April 2020-30 November 2021, reflects on complaints made by service users and members of the public and identifies common issues arising from such complaints.

Adult social care made up 20% of all COVID-related complaints investigated by the Ombudsman during the period covered by the report. The report also deals with complaints relating to the other issues (including benefits and tax and education and children's services) which make up the remaining 80% of COVID-related investigations. However, the key findings in the report arising specifically from upheld care complaints are as follows:

  • Care plans were not properly developed and/or reviewed as circumstances changed.
  • Inadequate record keeping of care provided during lockdown meant uncertainty about how users were supported.
  • Pre-existing delays and backlogs in service delivery were exacerbated and compounded by COVID-19, which meant that important further actions were delayed.
  • There were significant delays in carrying out Care Act assessments, sometimes preventing or delaying moves out of hospital or between providers.
  • The needs of people receiving care were not put at the centre of decisions.
  • Rules governing the use of PPE were not adhered to and/or fast-changing rules and procedures were not always adopted throughout an organisation's practice.
  • There was a failure to adapt promptly to the opportunity to reopen services as restrictions relaxed, including relaxing visiting rules as lockdowns ended.
  • There were difficulties with prioritising key decisions about longer term care.
  • There was inflexibility about the creative use of direct payments to secure appropriate care when normal provision was affected by lockdown.
  • Relatives were given unclear advice about visiting people in care homes at the end of life stage.
  • There were confusing changes and fluctuations in care sometimes without the consultation required by the Care Act.
  • There were various problems with transfers between hospital and care, and between different care providers, particularly involving reablement.
  • ...

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