London Borough of Croydon (23 002 824)

Category : Adult care services > Transition from childrens services

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 19 Dec 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Ms X complained the Council failed to put in place respite service for her child, Y, when they transitioned from children’s to adult social services. The Council was at fault. It failed to properly consider whether there was a need for a respite service for Ms X and Y. The Council has agreed to apologise to Ms X and pay her a symbolic amount of £250 for the distress and uncertainty the matter caused her. It will also review with staff the importance of following up the request for a respite service and offering carers an assessment of needs.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complained the Council failed to put in place respite service for her child, Y, when they transitioned from children’s to adult social services. Ms X said Y was without a respite service for several months which led Ms X to a crisis as she did not have the support to take care of Y. Ms X said it caused distress to her and Y. She wants the Council to recognise its fault, apologise to her and make service improvements to prevent a recurrence of fault.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. If there has been fault which has caused significant injustice, or that could cause injustice to others in the future we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
  2. When considering complaints, if there is a conflict of evidence, we make findings based on the balance of probabilities. This means that we look at the available relevant evidence and decide what was more likely to have happened.
  3. If we are satisfied with an organisation’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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I spoke with Ms X and considered information she provided.
  2. I considered information provided by the Council.
  3. Ms X and the Council had the opportunity to comment on the draft version of this decision. I considered their comments before reaching a final decision.

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What I found

Transition from children to adult social services

  1. When a child reaches 18 years of age, they are legally an adult and responsibility for meeting their needs moves from the council’s children services to its adult services. The legal basis for assessing their needs changes from the Children Act 1989 to the Care Act 2014. However, councils can decide to treat a children’s assessment as an adult assessment and can also carry out joint assessments.
  2. Statutory guidance says transition assessments should begin when the council can be reasonably confident about what the young person’s needs for care and support will look like when they turn 18. The purpose of the assessment is to provide the young person and their family with information so they know what to expect in future and can prepare for adulthood.
  3. The council must involve the young person in the assessment and should consider whether they need an advocate to fully participate. It should also involve anyone else the young person wants to involve, such as their carer.
  4. The assessment must identify all the young person’s needs for care and support and identify the outcomes the young person wishes to achieve. The assessment should also consider whether the carer is able to continue in their caring role after the young person turns 18.
  5. After completing the transition assessment, the council must give an indication of which of their needs are likely to be “eligible needs” under the Care Act 2014. This is so young people and their carers can understand the care and support they are likely to receive and can plan accordingly.
  6. If transition assessment and planning is carried out as it should be there should be no gaps in the provision of care and support. However, if adult care and support is not in place when the young person turns 18, the council must continue providing the services under children’s legislation until it is in place.


  1. Ms X’s child, Y, has a neurological and developmental condition which affects their communication, learning and behaviour. Y lived at home with Ms X. Ms X supported Y with their care and support needs.
  2. Y had a package of care in place under the Council’s children’s social services which included an overnight respite service they attended once every two weeks.
  3. In Autumn, Y turned 18 years of age. Some of Y’s support such as the respite service would end as they turned 18.

What happened

  1. In April 2022, the Council’s children social services referred Y to its adult social services. The Council’s adult social services wanted to determine whether Y would have continued care and support needs as they transitioned into an adult, at the age of 18. The Council allocated Y an adult social worker in September 2022.
  2. Between September and October 2022, the adult Social Worker with a social worker from the children’s social services, visited Ms X and Y in their home and completed a transition assessment with Y. The assessment concluded Y met the threshold for care and support under the Care Act 2014 and without this support, Y’s health and wellbeing would be significantly affected due to the risk of harm. The assessment record said Y would require support such as:
    • daily visits in the home to support Y with activities of daily living; and
    • weekly support with social relationships and activities.
  3. The assessment record referred to Y’s current respite provision. It noted that Y’s respite of two overnight stays a month was going well but would end when Y turned 18 and that the Council was currently looking for an alternative provider.
  4. The Social Worker did not complete a carer’s needs assessment with Ms X.
  5. Ms X asked the Social Worker about obtaining a new respite service provider. Ms X said there was a provider nearby she was interested in who could offer Y a respite service. The Social Worker told Ms X they would contact the provider about a placement. The Council’s records show the Social Worker emailed and called the potential new provider on several occasions in October 2022. There are no records they received a response.
  6. The Social Worker later presented the assessment it had completed with Y to the Council’s panel for adult social care funding. The request for funding did not include a respite service as there was no provider in place as yet. The panel later approved the funding.
  7. Towards the end of October 2022, Y stopped attending the respite service.
  8. Between October and early November 2022, the Social Worker liaised with Ms X about a respite service provider. They told Ms X it had received no response from Ms X’s preferred provider about a placement for Y. They asked Ms X if she and Y were able to travel to a neighbouring council area for a placement. Ms X told the Social Worker the neighbouring council was too far and she was ‘not that desperate for respite’.
  9. In December 2022, Ms X approved the new support plan for Y.
  10. In February 2023, the Social Worker informed Ms X it had now placed Y’s case in a review folder as their package of support had been completed and implemented. Y’s case would be reviewed later in the year.
  11. In April 2023, Ms X complained to the Council. She told the Council Y’s care and support needs had suddenly increased. She had no respite service in place and had now reached a crisis point. She advised the Council Y would be moving to live with their father and requested emergency respite in the meantime. The Council attempted to look for an emergency respite service for Y. It found one within the council area and suggested Ms X visit with Y. However, Ms X decided this would be too disruptive for Y and in May 2023, Y moved in with their father.
  12. In May 2023, the Council responded to Ms X’s complaint and said:
    • Ms X did not contact the Council again about a respite service after declining a respite service outside of the council area;
    • Ms X had approved the support plan in December 2022;
    • the Council had been in regular contact with Ms X and informed her it was placing Y’s case in the review folder. Ms X did not object to it.
  13. Ms X remained unhappy and complained to us.

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  1. Under the children’s social services, Y had an overnight respite service in place which they accessed once every two weeks. The assessment the Council completed in October 2022 indicated Ms X supported Y at home. However, the Council did not complete a carer’s assessment with Ms X. There is also no evidence the Council offered to complete a carer’s assessment with Ms X to identify her needs. This was fault.
  2. Guidance states there should be no gaps in the provision of care and support when a child transitions to adult social services and that councils must continue providing the services under the children’s legislation until it is in place. In Y’s case, this did not happen. The Council was at fault. Y was left with no respite service from October 2022 until May 2023.
  3. The Council’s records state it did contact Ms X’s preferred provider for a respite service on several occasions in October 2022. In early November 2022, the Council then asked Ms X if she would travel to another council area for the service. Ms X told the Council she did not want to travel too far and said at that time she was not that desperate. The Council’s failure to follow this up was fault. There is no evidence the Council continued to look for a suitable respite service.
  4. Ms X did not make further contact with the Council about a respite service again until April 2023 at which point, she felt she was at crisis point. However, the Council had a responsibility to ensure respite was in place when Y transitioned into adult social services and it did not do so.


  1. The Council’s failure to properly consider whether there was a need for a respite service caused Ms X distress and uncertainty. However, I cannot say, even on the balance of probability, that Ms X would not have reached crisis point had the respite service been in place.

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Agreed actions

  1. Within one month of the final decision, the Council has agreed it will:
    • provide Ms X with a written apology and pay her a symbolic amount of £250 for the distress and uncertainty it caused her by not properly considering her or Y’s needs for a respite service.
  2. Within one month of the final decision, the Council has also agreed to:
    • review with staff this complaint, the importance of following up respite where it has been requested and ensures staff have offered an assessment to carers where there may be a need.

The Council will provide us with evidence it has complied with the above actions.

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Final decision

  1. I have now completed my investigation. The Council was at fault. It has agreed to the recommendations to remedy the injustice caused and prevent a recurrence of fault.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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