A woman with autism was left without proper support after Salford City Council failed to review her care plan for more than five years, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The watchdog also found the council has not carried out any autism awareness training for staff – questioning whether more people have been affected by the same problems.
The woman was assessed for the care and support she needed with domestic tasks and accessing the community in 2013. In 2018 her support agency withdrew its services because she had not paid the workers’ expenses.
Originally, the council paid both fees and expenses, but it has since changed its arrangements so that providers now recover expenses directly from its service users. However, this was never explained to the woman, and so she was not aware there was a problem.
The woman complained to the council, and when she was unhappy with the council’s response she complained to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for not reviewing the woman’s care plan for more than five years, and for not adhering to the most fundamental parts of the Care and Support Statutory Guidance.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said: “Under the Care Act authorities have a duty to review care and support plans at least every 12 months. In this case the woman was not properly reassessed for more than five years. Two doctors’ letters were on file, but these cannot constitute a proper annual review or reassessment.
“It is difficult to say just what impact this lack of oversight has had on the woman, but the council would have had the chance to properly consider her changing needs had it reviewed and updated her care plan in the correct way.”
The council has agreed to reinstate the woman’s care and support plan, including payment of her expenses while it arranges to reassess her.
It has also agreed to pay the woman £1,000 for her distress and a further £200 for the time and trouble of bringing the complaint.
Councillor 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 fully to the complainant.
“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.”