A disabled woman has had her care package reinstated after a flawed assessment led it to be reduced by more than half.
Bolton Metropolitan Council apologised to the woman, who is registered blind and has numerous health conditions, after cutting her personal budget from 67 to 25 hours of care per week.
An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council at fault for failing to assess the woman’s needs when she left hospital, and when the council did start the reassessment, it was with the intention of reducing her care hours.
The Ombudsman said the assessment, which “took a year to complete” and was “highly inaccurate”, did not consider the woman’s fluctuating needs or the cumulative impact of her health conditions, despite “clear evidence provided”.
The cuts to the woman’s care package caused her significant problems in carrying out basic activities, including communication, taking medication and preparing food. This resulted in 75 accidents over 12 months, the Ombudsman found.
Because of her disabilities, the woman needed support to challenge the assessment and her personal assistant had to spend many hours helping her do this because the council didn’t offer support.
The Ombudsman criticised the way the council handled the woman’s complaint, and its failure to make reasonable adjustments for her disabilities so she could make the complaint.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “While I appreciate the pressures councils are under, the amount of support and budget given to someone should not be based on financial matters, but on a person’s needs.
“In this case the council used a flawed assessment to reduce the woman’s support by more than 60%, causing her significant distress.
“I am concerned the council has used the same approach with other people in its area, so I welcome its commitment to review other cases to see if they comply with the Care Act.
“I also welcome the steps the council has already taken to remedy the complaint and improve its services for people in its area.”
The council has apologised to the woman, reinstated her original care package of 67 hours per week and agreed to pay the woman’s longstanding personal assistant £500 in recognition of the unpaid and on-demand support she provided.
It has also been ordered to pay the woman £3,800 to acknowledge the distress, time and trouble it caused when it failed to provide sufficient support and listen to what she said.
A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The council takes all cases and complaints seriously and we are committed to improving our services.
“We have contacted the individual to apologise for our handling of this case and continue to work with her to ensure her needs are met.
“The care package was reinstated at the earliest opportunity, and the case assigned to an experienced social worker to reassess her needs to ensure an appropriate assessment and care package are in place going forward.
“We have read the findings of the report closely and will take this as an opportunity to learn and improve our services.
“Many actions have already been completed, and this has been acknowledged by the Ombudsman in the report.”