A man whose elderly parents were forcibly detained in care homes suffered an “injustice”, a watchdog has concluded.
Retired GP Dr Mike Adam, from Lepton, had both his mother and his father taken away using little known Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) legislation.
DoLs are used by local authorities, care homes and hospitals to restrict the freedom of people who lack the ability to make key decisions about their lives.
Kirklees Council used a DoL in 2009 to put Dr Adam’s father Ian in a home, despite his protests and offers to finance private care.
A year later the same law was used to detain his mother at Tolson Grange Care Home after she had only gone in to look around.
Now, just days after his mother Joan sadly died, Dr Adam has had his complaint against the council and South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWYFT) upheld.
A joint investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, found both authorities guilty of “maladministration”.
It says the couple suffered a “needless loss of dignity” and says if safeguarding processes had been properly implemented it was likely the crisis would have been averted.
Dr Adam, a former Waterloo GP, said he was exhausted but “vindicated” after his three-year battle for justice.
He said: “I’m not bitter but obviously anger has been a motivation in pursuing it to this level.
“It’s a great disappointment to me that my parents, who worked in the health service all their lives, have found it wanting when they need it the most.
“My father, if he could read the report, would be appalled.
“I would hope both authorities reflect very deeply on the mistakes made in this case.
“Kirklees Council and SWYFT need to look very seriously at how they involve families in the management of people who have dementia.
“They can’t steamroller over a family’s wishes. They have to involve them entirely.”
The report says Kirklees Council failed to give Dr Adam proper information or respond to his complaints in a timely manner.
It says: “The council did not ‘get it right’ in line with the ombudsman’s principles.”
SWYFT, which provides mental health services for the Kirklees area, is also heavily rapped for failing to re-assess Mr Adam’s prescription and excluding Dr Adam from discussions about his father.
The trust also failed to respond to Dr Adam’s complaints and sent a report about both his parents mental health decline to his mother, which caused her distress.
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: “As a result of action by both the council and the trust, the couple were denied the chance of living at home together in a settled lifestyle for longer than they did.
“The couple suffered a needless loss of dignity, while their son felt ignored, undermined and excluded from any decision about their care.
“I am pleased that both the council and the trust have agreed to our recommendations and hope they go some way to remedy the poor treatment and upset the family has endured.”
Julie Mellor, Health Service Ombudsman, said: “Involving their son could have led to better outcomes for the couple.
“Families and carers can have the key to understanding the needs of their loved ones.
“That’s why public services must, in law, involve families and carers in making life-changing decisions for vulnerable people.”
Kirklees and SWYFT have been ordered to pay £1,000 compensation each to Dr Adam’s parents for the distress they caused and £500 each to Dr Adam himself.
SWYFT has an additional penalty of £250 for the distress it caused Dr Adam’s mother by writing to her about her care plan.
Both authorities have been asked to consider further compensation in light of Dr Adam’s financial loss.
Dr Adam, said: “It’s very sad. My mother died on November 9 and my father is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease
“The council and the health services do try very hard, but they are struggling with inadequate resources.
“They need enough money to be able to run these service safely.
“But I have faith all will learn from this and the services can improve.”
Dr Adam said the care his father had received at Southfield Court care home in Almondbury had been excellent.
He also praised Tolson Grange’s care.
In a joint statement Kirklees Council and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Local Government Ombudsman’s report published this week highlights concerns raised with Kirklees Council and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in 2009.
“The complainant referred these issues to the Ombudsman in September 2011.
“The council and the trust have written to the complainant apologising for the distress caused and explaining what changes have already been made and what further actions we intend to take.
“Both organisations acknowledge the findings and recommendations in the report.
“Whilst the report does highlight areas for improvement, it is important to stress that a plan has been agreed by both organisations and action has already been taken to address issues.”