Lambeth Council criticised over care for autistic children

24 Aug 2012 12:08 PM

London Borough of Lambeth failed to provide daily care needed by two autistic children for over a year, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.

In her report she also criticises the Council for failing to provide respite care. She says: “The effect of the Council’s failures was serious. The children’s mother was caused additional work in caring for her children alone by the loss of daily care and respite care to which she was entitled.”

The complainant is a single parent with two children who have autism. She complained about the Council’s failings in its care support for her and her children.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the Council:

  • did not write care plans for the children or update its core assessments, which meant it did not provide all the daily care the children needed for a period of more than a year
  • failed to provide the respite care the complainant needed for more than 15 months after it could have been expected to do so
  • failed to deal with the complaint in a timely way, and
  • failed to provide a remedy for the faults that its own processes identified.

The complainant was also caused distress and justifiable outrage by the Council’s failure to act even when a need for a remedy had been identified by its own complaints process. This was compounded by the delay in the Council’s complaints process. She also had to take unnecessary time and trouble in having to bring her complaint to the Ombudsman when the Council had already identified failings that remained unremedied.

The Ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and recommends the Council to:

  • apologise to the complainant and pay her £19,469.88
  • write care plans for the children and carry out fresh core assessments if any change is proposed in future
  • review its policies and procedures, and
  • consider any other service users similarly affected by any failure of the Council to write care plans or to update core assessments.