An elderly woman with dementia suffered a deterioration in her health and died amid a dispute over who was responsible for her care package.

In a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, the unidentified 99-year-old lost weight and hadn't showered 'for many weeks' during this time.

A Sutton Council spokesman said (May 10) they accepted the findings, outstanding invoices for her care were cancelled, and the family was apologised to.

The ruling said: “Mrs X was a lady without capacity and was reliant on her family and carers to meet her basic care needs such as washing, going to the toilet, getting dressed, and eating.

“The records from this time show Mrs X had not showered for many weeks and her skin integrity was poor because of continence issues.

“A specialist dementia care nurse had also brought her concerns to the council’s [Sutton] attention as early as September 2015.”

The issue began when the elderly woman moved to Sutton and stayed with her daughter in September 2015 from her previous house in a different London area.

However, conflict over whether it was a temporary or permanent moved delayed in resolving issues and continuity in her care.

The other council, who also wasn't named, said she was staying with her daughter permanently and closed the case following a 'lengthy dispute' between the two.

Sutton Council accepted responsibility of Mrs X following the move into the area but this was 21 months on from September 2015, in June 2017, and was apparently due to the other authority failing to respond on the matter.

The LGO ruling added: "The law is clear about what councils should do when people move from one council area to another.

"There should be close liaison between the councils to ensure what it referred to as 'continuity of care'. Either the new authority should replicate existing services or it should carry out its own reassessment and support plan.

"It is unfortunate there was no discussion between the authorities before Mrs X moved.”

There were also issues over who should pay for Mrs X’s care, since a financial assessment highlighted she was above the £23,350 threshold for paying care costs – in accordance with the Care Act 2014.

The report continued that Sutton Council applied the law correctly and did not hold them ‘entirely responsible’ for why Mrs X’s assessment changed for when she moved.

However, despite the challenges faced there was dissatisfaction over the support for the woman in question.

Mrs X died during the LGO's investigation.

It added: “It is these sorts of situations that the Care Act guidance seeks to avoid. There was no continuity of care.

“Regardless of the actions of Council A, Mrs X was the responsibility of [Sutton] Council as a person living in its area.

“There was fault in the social work service provided to Mrs X when she moved into the council’s area.

"The council did not do enough to resolve the ordinary residence dispute with another council.”