Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 04 Jul 2017
A grandmother complains that London Borough of Croydon has failed to provide her with more than two years respite care after the provider stopped the care package in 2015.
The grandmother also complains the council's failure to provide suitable respite care and the delayed transition process has caused her considerable anxiety and uncertainty. She also refers to unnecessary effort to get information and action from the Council, which she describes as being ‘debilitated by frustration’. She says it has also caused her grandson extreme distress from a lack of planning and provision of routine, necessary because of his complex and specific conditions of Autism and Fragile X Syndrome. This has also resulted in her becoming exhausted by the lack of respite from caring for her grandson throughout school holidays.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.
To remedy the injustice the council has agreed to:
- apologise to the grandmother and the grandson for its failure to start transition planning from 2011 (school Year 9) and for the resultant delays in providing suitable assessments and plans for B’s move into adult life;
- apologise to the grandmother for the related failure to properly assess her carer’s needs within the transition process;
- apologise to the grandmother and the grandson for failing to provide suitable alternative respite provision from February 2015 and for the considerable adverse impacts this has had on the family;
- apologise for failing to ensure the annual discretionary holiday payment was paid in a timely way, causing the grandmother additional and unnecessary anxiety;
- apologise for failing to complete the Transfer process under the 2014 Special Educational Needs (SEN) Regulations within the statutory timescales;
- pay the grandmother and grandson each £5,000 in recognition of the harm caused to each of them by the lack of suitable respite for two years; and
- pay the grandmother a further £1,250 to recognise the distress caused to her from having to pursue these matters over two years without a suitable resolution and for the impact of the delay of the Transfer process.
These actions should all be completed within one month of our report.
The council should also:
- Complete the Transition Assessment for the grandson and prepares a Transition Plan within two months of our report. This should take full account of the grandson's wishes, feelings and aspirations (through an independent advocate if necessary) and be with the grandmother's full involvement and co-operation. If the Transition Plan retains the discretionary annual holiday payment or provides an equivalent payment, the council should ensure this is paid in time to allow the grandmother to plan holidays with her family.
- If the Council has not yet done so it should issue the grandson's Final Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), as soon as possible, to provide the grandson and the grandmother with certainty about its provisions and, if needed, a right of appeal to the Tribunal. We recommend the council urgently reviews its Transition to Adulthood policies and procedures. The review should look at embedding the requirement for transition work to start in the school Year 9 for all children with assessed care needs. It should link fully into the statutory SEN Education Health and Care (EHC) plan process set out in the 2014 Regulations, where social care forms a defined element of the plan.
- We recommend the Council drafts a new Transition policy document that sets out to service users what they can expect. It should also provide Council staff with clear timelines and procedures to follow. The policy should require officers to evidence the basis for deciding when they consider it is ‘of benefit’ to the young person to start the Transition Assessment. It should also include details of monitoring to ensure the delays experienced in this case do not happen in future.
- Provide us and the grandmother with a timetable for this work within one month (which should be concluded within six months of this report). It should provide updates at two monthly intervals until it is completed, and a copy of the final policy documents.