LGO decision: Jones 10 010 739 [2011] MHLO 191

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"A case where the DoL decision taken was not the 'least restrictive' option." [Summary required.]

Decision

A case where the DoL decision taken was not the ‘least restrictive’ option.

Mrs Jones complained to the LGO about the fact that her sister, Mrs Davies, was not allowed to return home after an admission to hospital. Additionally the council prevented her from moving her sister to another care home of her choosing.

Mrs Davies has a degenerative and congenital condition called Huntingdon’s Disease. She was living with and being cared for by her sister until October 2006 when she was admitted to hospital. The admission was triggered by the district nurse finding her on the floor. She was covered in bruises from other falls and had an infection. Mrs Davies told staff on the hospital ward she did not want to return to the care of her sister Mrs Jones. She told others, however, that she did want to return. A multidisciplinary discharge meeting was held. Mrs Davies’ other sister Mrs Weston was asked to attend the meeting as she has power of attorney. It was decided that the flat Mrs Jones lived in was unsuitable and that she was unable to give the level of care required. The option of Mrs Davies returning to the flat with a care package was explored but thought to not be viable. Mrs Davies was admitted to a nursing home.

In early 2007 Mrs Jones was also diagnosed as having Huntingdon’s Disease. She was suffering from common complications such as poor grip, reduced mobility, slurred speech and memory difficulties. Doctors also had concerns about impulsivity and lack of judgement. Mrs Jones never accepted that she could not care for her sister Mrs Davies. She was unhappy with the care Mrs Davies received in the nursing home at times. Mrs Jones continued to deteriorate and had problems swallowing. She was reluctant to accept help from social services. The records show that Mrs Davies and Mrs Jones missed each other’s company a lot. In 2009 the care home placed restrictions on Mrs Jones visiting following some difficulties between her and the carers. After this she was told she could not visit unaccompanied. Some meetings were held at which Mrs Jones stated that she wanted to live in a care home with her sister.

Mrs Jones moved from her small flat to sheltered accommodation and Mrs Davies was able to visit her there. At this time Mrs Davies began asking to go back and live with Mrs Jones. This resulted in an application for a Deprivation of Liberty authorisation. It was granted as Mrs Davies lacked capacity and Mrs Jones was not up to the challenge of providing the level of care required. In addition, Mrs Davies’ needs could not have been met in sheltered and supported living accommodation. Both sisters were upset about the authorisation. An IMCA and People’s Voice advocacy group was involved.

Eventually Mrs Jones made a formal complaint to the council about the detention. In its response the council said Mrs Davies needed expert care and Mrs Jones would not be able to provide that. The council also said Mrs Davies was settled now and her consultant’s view was that her needs were best met at the care home. The authorisation expired after six months and another was made and granted. In the second authorisation it is noted that both sisters voiced a preference for being together. It was however deemed in Mrs Davies’s best interests to remain where she was. The council said it would support the sisters spending as much time together as possible. Mrs Jones condition continued to deteriorate and records indicate that she may need residential care very soon.

The LGO decided that we would have expected the council to assess whether the sisters could live together in a home that could cater for the needs of both. In not exploring that option the arrangements may not be the least restrictive. The council agreed to a multi-stakeholder meeting to begin the process of dealing with the sisters’ assessments and begin planning to accommodate them together for as long as they wish.

Other

Decision: June 2011.

External link

Not on Bailii or LGO website.

Lucy Series, 'The Local Government Ombudsman can investigate complaints about DoLS' (The Small Places Blog, 26/6/12)