Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (18 005 804)

Category : Children's care services > Other

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 11 Nov 2019

Summary: Mrs X complains the Council has placed her & her son who we shall call Y in inappropriate accommodation for the past five years and has failed to provide her with proper support. Mrs X says the Council has refused to allow her representative to attend meetings and will not allow her to stay away from the accommodation.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault found causing injustice.

Recommendations

The Council should take the following action to remedy the injustice caused as a result of the fault we have identified:

  • write to Mrs X to apologise for failing to allow her representative to attend meetings in 2017;
  • pay Mrs X £250 to acknowledge the distress caused by its actions and time and trouble she was put to pursuing her complaint;
  • arrange for a senior officer to meet with Mrs X and her representatives to offer a personal apology for the unsubstantiated allegations made against them during our investigation;
  • remove any record of unsubstantiated allegations about Mrs X and her representatives from Mrs X’s and Y’s records. If this is not possible the Council should make it clear on its records that these allegations are not substantiated, that there is no evidence to support them and Mrs X and her representatives deny that any such disclosures were made; and
  • write to Mrs X’s representatives to confirm that none of the unsubstantiated allegations were shared with other organisations.

The Council should also take the following action to improve its services:

  • remind staff that families have a right to be accompanied to meetings by appropriate representatives;
  • remind staff of the Health & Care Professions Council’s (now Social Work England) Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England;
  • arrange to meet with the organisation representing Mrs X to develop a better understanding of each other’s aims and responsibilities. The Council should attempt to produce a working agreement with the organisation to set out each other’s expectations in terms of communication, response timescales and attending meetings. In the event an agreement cannot be reached the Council should set out its expectations of the organisation as well as what the organisation can expect from the Council in writing;
  • review its protocol for families with no recourse to public funds to explain circumstances in which financial or other support may be restricted or withdrawn; and
  • review any literature given to families with no recourse to public funds to ensure it clearly explains their rights and the Council’s obligations to them.

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 12 February 2020.

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