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Manchester City Council (21 000 833)

Category : Adult care services > Other

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 27 Oct 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs X complained on behalf of her son, Mr Y, about the Council’s actions in placing a neighbour inappropriately and dealing with their behaviour. The neighbour’s behaviour caused Mr Y significant distress and caused a significant risk to his health and wellbeing. We found the Council was not at fault in the way it dealt with this.

The complaint

  1. The complainant whom I will refer to as Mrs X, complained on behalf of her son, Mr Y, that the Council:
    • placed a neighbour inappropriately whose abusive behaviour caused a significant risk to Mr Y’s health and well being and caused him significant distress.
    • did not move the neighbour to a more suitable placement although it was aware of their behaviour which continued to cause risk and distress to Mr Y.
  2. Mrs X says this caused Mr Y to lose weight and repeatedly lose sleep due to the disturbance and stress caused. He was fearful of leaving his home and although he has not seen the neighbour recently, he still cannot relax because he does not know when she will next be back. Mr Y would like the Council to:
    • Move the neighbour permanently.
    • Place CCTV outside Mr Y’s property, install a video doorbell, secure the premises and provide a fob to enter the grounds.
    • Pay for Mr Y to take a holiday.
    • Agree timescales to complete these.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints of injustice caused by ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
  2. If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
  3. We may investigate a complaint on behalf of someone who has died or who cannot authorise someone to act for them. The complaint may be made by:
  • their personal representative (if they have one), or
  • someone we consider to be suitable.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(2), as amended)

We are satisfied Mrs X is a suitable person to complain on Mr Y’s behalf.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information from the Complainant and from the Council.
  2. I sent both parties a copy of my draft decision for comment and took account of the comments I received in response.

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What I found

Background

What happened

  1. To protect the confidentiality of those involved in this case, I have only provided a basic outline of events. I have, however, considered numerous documents about what happened and although I cannot share it here, I have taken all this information fully into account.
  2. Mr Y lived alone in a supported housing property.
  3. In early January 2021, Ms Z moved into a neighbouring property. Her behaviour soon caused concerns with staff who spoke to Ms Z and one of her family members. The family member contacted the Council who followed up with regular contact and visited Miss Z in late January.
  4. Early in February, the Council received a safeguarding concern about the impact of Ms Z’s behaviour on Mr Y. The Council continued its involvement with Ms Z on an almost daily basis, trying to deal with the issues which were unexpected and had not occurred previously. They tried to find alternative accommodation and in mid February, Ms Z stayed in a short break service, but this was brief and all that was available.
  5. Ms Z’s behaviour escalated, and the Council continued searching for another placement. Ms Z went for short breaks when the Council could arrange them and she agreed to go. The Council’s involvement continued daily into March. In mid March, Ms Z stayed with a previous carer and then moved into another placement.
  6. In early June, notice was given on Ms Z’s tenancy.
  7. The Council also asked Mr Y’s landlord to provide him with a camera and a fob/key. Mrs X says he has not yet received this. The Council also considered whether Mr Y should have a short break while Ms Z was resident, but a family member stayed with him. They wanted Ms Z to move and felt Mr Y should not be expected to move out even for a short break.

Was there fault which caused injustice?

  1. I found no fault in the way the Council dealt with this situation. I have looked at the records and am satisfied the Council could not have known Ms Z might behave in this way.
  2. It is unfortunate the impact on Mr Y was significant, but this was not the Council’s fault, and I am satisfied it found a satisfactory solution as quickly as possible.
  3. Since the circumstances which gave rise to the Council’s request for a camera and fob/key no longer exist, Mr Y will need to ask his landlord if he still wishes to have this.

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Final decision

  1. I have completed my investigation and have not upheld Mrs X’s complaint that the Council:
    • placed a neighbour inappropriately whose abusive behaviour caused a significant risk to Mr Y’s health and well being and caused him significant distress.
    • did not move the neighbour to a more suitable placement although it was aware of their behaviour which continued to cause risk and distress to Mr Y.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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