Council launches a review after woman was overcharged for her mother’s care

Cllr Maureen Worby (left) speaking at a Barking and Dagenham Council assembly meeting on Wednesday.

Cllr Maureen Worby (left) speaking at a Barking and Dagenham Council assembly meeting on Wednesday. Picture: LBBD - Credit: Archant

The council is reviewing how it pays for care after a woman was overcharged when her mother moved into a home for the elderly.

Moreland House care home. Picture: Google.

Moreland House care home. Picture: Google. - Credit: Google

Barking and Dagenham Council offered to pay £2,422 while Moreland House in Manor Avenue, Gidea Park, was ordered to pay £250 by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) after the 'confusion and distress' caused.

Cllr Maureen Worby, the local authority's social care cabinet member, said at an assembly meeting on Wednesday: "Whilst none of this was about the quality of care, the way we operated our business caused more distress and confusion for a family at a very difficult time."

The daughter, referred to in the report as Mrs A, approached the LGO watchdog complaining about payment errors made in 2016 when her mum moved into Moreland House following an illness.

The council carried out a financial assessment and agreed to pay £575 towards the £900 weekly cost of care expecting the home to collect a shortfall from Mrs A and her mother.

But the LGO found there was confusion about the amount the family was expected to pay and that the council did not act in line with legal guidance on charging.

In its report the LGO gave the council three months to carry out a review, which was put to councillors on Wednesday, and make sure all clients get care and support plans.

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It also recommended Barking and Dagenham review its fee collection arrangements with care homes to make sure they are in line with the Care Act 2014.

The LGO noted in its report that the council had accepted all its findings.

Cllr Worby said: "The guidance in the Care Act was grey to say the least. However, the ombudsman found it was unreasonable to expect the family to deal with the home collecting the monies and it should be the local authority."

She added the report was made public so other local authorities would also change their own procedures.

Before its publication, Moreland House apologised for a four month delay in actioning a standing order which had left the family with debts running to thousands of pounds.