Depriving someone of their liberty by placing them in a care home is something that must be done carefully and with the correct authorisation. Kent County Council have recently been reprimanded by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for placing a lady in a care home against her wishes.
Mr C decided to complain to the Ombudsman in respect of the decision by Kent County Council to place his late partner in a care home. He complained that there had been inadequate arrangements for a best interests meeting, a lack of consultation before placing his partner in a care home, the appointment of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate, authorisation to deprive his partner of her liberty and failure to apply to the Court of Protection for approval.
Ms D was admitted to hospital following a stroke in 2019. Prior to her stay in hospital Ms D had been living with Mr C and had been cared for by him as she had suffered brain damage. No help or support was provided to them from the local authority.
When it was agreed Ms D should be discharged from hospital it was recommended that she was moved to a rehabilitation unit in a community hospital. The rehabilitation unit made the referral for a social care assessment to Kent County County and suggested that Ms D may need care at home after rehabilitation and that they were worried about Mr C's ability to care for Ms D. The rehabilitation unit acted correctly and obtained the correct authorisation to keep Ms D with them, enacted the formal procedure to extend their urgent authorisation and applied to put in place the standard authorisation required for Ms D to stay with them. The official assessment of the deprivation of Ms C's liberty did not take place by Kent County Council until six weeks later in September 2019 and failed to approve an extension to the urgent authorisation to for Ms D to remain in the rehabilitation unit.
At the time for the official deprivation of liberty assessment in September 2019 it was determined that Ms D did not have capacity to make decisions about her care and accommodation. She was therefore referred to an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate who would work with Ms D to determine her wishes and feelings. The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate stated she would support a move home with additional support to the support already provided by Mr C.
A best interests meeting was scheduled but failed to go ahead to determine the next steps but a discussion was had with Mr C over the return home of Ms D. It was only in November that the best interests meeting took place at which it was decided it would be in Ms D's best interests to move into a nursing home Kent County Council then moved Ms Dfrom the rehabilitation centre to a nursing home at the end of November 2019. Ms D eventually returned home with a care package just before Christmas. Sadly she became unwell and died in April 2020 at home.
The Ombudsman found that Kent County Council had not done enough to communicate with Mr C during the process nor had they given him sufficient opportunity to express his views. It was also found that the couple's right to a private and family life under the Human Rights Act had not been given due regard and the least restrictive option for her care had not been considered. The Ombudsman said "because of the failings I have found in this case, the couple lost valuable time in their last few months together" and "because the council did not refer the dispute to the Court of Protection, the couple were also denied the opportunity to have their case considered by an independent body".
As a result of this case Kent County Council have been instructed to review a number of its practices to ensure proper authorisations are in place within the legal time frames and has to review past cases and ensure future cases are dealt with appropriately. The review of historic cases is to take place from January 2019 where deprivation of liberty assessments had not been completed or were not completed within the time scales.
If you would like to review the full report of this complaint
here is the link
Deprivation of liberty cases are not straightforward and things often go wrong. If you think you may have a case to be considered due to a placement in a care home or a deprivation in a private home since January 2019 let us know as we may be able to help.