An autistic woman was left without adequate support for months after Salford City Council failed to carry out its statutory duties.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman issued a report last week following a complaint by ‘Mrs W’, who has not been named, a Salford resident with autism.
The Ombudsman found that the Council did not review her care plan for five years, something it is required to do every year.
As a result, Mrs W was not given support suited to her changing health needs.
She now has a serious health condition and the lack of appropriate help meant she had to miss hospital appointments.
In addition, her care agency stopped its services in 2018 because they were not getting paid for her care worker’s expenses.
The Council had failed to explain to Mrs W that policy changes meant it no longer paid expenses to the agency and that she would instead have to do so.
The report also found that the council did not provide staff with adequate training to treat people with autism, something it is required to do by law.
Sue Botts, Head of Policy and Research at charity Disability Rights UK, said:
“This is a shocking case. Salford Council cannot hide behind the excuse of austerity and cutbacks. This is simply very poor service.”
Cllr Gina Reynolds, lead member for adult services, health and wellbeing said: “The council, along with our health partners, has accepted the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman report published on 10 October and we apologise again fully to the complainant.”
The council did not offer any explanation as to why these failings took place. Questions also remain regarding the number of people in Salford who might have faced a similar situation.
In response to this, Salford Council provided the Ombudsman with two letters from a nurse-led clinic which Mrs W attended, claiming that was equivalent to a care review, something the Ombudsman did not accept.
The report said: “We do not agree these letters are a substitute for a proper care plan […].
“Furthermore, even if these letters did count as a reviewed and updated care plan, they should have been provided at least once a year. A single letter from 2017 and a single letter from 2019 do not meet this requirement.
“So, in the substantive sense, the last proper care plan produced for Mrs W was in 2013, as she says. This is a very significant fault.”
The council agreed to restore Mrs W’s original care plan and to pay her 1,200 pounds. It will also provide necessary training to staff to treat people with autism.
Cllr Reynolds added: “As the Ombudsman recognises, we have put a robust action plan in place to improve the service above and beyond their recommendations.
“This is developing a new and stronger approach to how we manage and develop the quality of our practice to ensure a case like this does not happen again.
“I have welcomed the Ombudsman’s view which agreed this action plan was a satisfactory response.”