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London council leaves family in limbo without appropriate support

A young woman with life-limiting conditions has been unable to take part in some of her favourite activities for more than a year because London Borough of Croydon failed to support her and her father properly, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said.

The woman, who has Down’s Syndrome, with autistic tendencies and life limiting conditions, moved to the Croydon area to live with her father.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that, despite the council being made aware of the woman’s situation, it failed to ensure her care and support continued without disruption. This meant for a year the father had to use his own finances to support his daughter, and the daughter missed out on services she should have received.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

“This situation has placed considerable strain on the family; the father has come close to not being able to pay his mortgage and other bills, and the daughter has missed out on social time with people her own age, which has had a significant effect on her wellbeing.

“The council has failed in its duties under the Care Act, which states it should have ensured continuity of care for the family when the woman moved into its area. I am pleased the council has readily accepted my recommendations, and now urge it to put appropriate support measures in place as soon as possible.”

For a long time after the woman moved to Croydon, the council where she lived previously continued to provide for her support through direct payments.

But after around two years, her father realised he was no longer receiving payments for her care and support, and so he chased Croydon council. It agreed to repay the full amount of direct payments that it should have previously paid, and confirmed this in writing.

However, the council then reneged on this decision, and said it would repay a significantly reduced amount. It also put no support in place for the woman going forward so her father once again had to support his daughter using his own money.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council should have continued the woman’s care package after she moved to its area. It also failed to support the father as his daughter’s carer. The investigation also found the council took too long to complete the woman’s support plan and failed to meet her care and support needs following an assessment it had made soon after she moved into the area.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to improve local public, and adult social care, services.

As a result of the Ombudsman’s investigation,  the council will apologise to the family. It has also paid back the direct payments it should have provided, and agreed those in future for the daughter.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve a council’s processes for the wider public. In this case the council will now also update its procedures for cases when somebody is transferring into its borough.

The council will pay the family £2,500 to use towards a holiday or activities that they have missed out on over the past year.

In addition, it will also pay the woman £750 to recognise the distress and impact the lack of support has had on her wellbeing, and a further £1,500 to the father to recognise the distress and time and trouble its actions have caused.

The council will also complete a carer’s assessment for the father as soon as possible.

Article date: 09 November 2017