Parents left without support for disabled teenager because of poor planning by the London Borough of Bromley

Parents of a disabled teenager were left without any support because the London Borough of Bromley did not put plans in place for when he turned 18, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has found.

The teen, who lives with his parents and younger sister, and who has significant disabilities, had received a care package which included six nights a month at a respite centre and 18 days a year at a holiday club.

Despite his needs not changing, no arrangements were in place when his care moved from being the responsibility of children’s services to adult services when he turned 18 in October 2015.

This meant that for more than five months the family had to manage alone, unsupported, despite telling social workers they could not cope with his needs.

An assessment carried out in December 2015 suggested the family needed a support package which included 72 days respite a year. The social worker also felt if the family did not receive this level of support they would be looking for a residential placement for their son.

However, rather than offering the family their full care package, an assessment panel concluded they would only be offered 28 days respite, without giving a reason for this decision.

The family complained to the LGO. An investigation found fault with the way the council delayed carrying out an assessment for the family, and also delayed agreeing the level of support it would offer.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“This family fell between the cracks as it moved from one council service to another. They were left without the essential support they needed for more than five months, and without any explanation as to why, when the council decided their previous level would be almost halved.

“While the reasons for these issues stemmed from the transfer between departments, all the family knew was that it missed out on the vital support it needed, and was entitled to receive, to help them cope. There is a clear duty for councils to ensure there are no gaps in care and support by providing services until an adult social care package is in place.

“I am pleased the council has agreed to my recommendations to put things right for the family and review its procedures to help avoid a similar issue happening again.”

The council has agreed to pay the family a sum equivalent to the cost of missed respite and support between October 2015 and April 2016, and will also pay the family £1,000 in recognition of the significant stress, anxiety and time and trouble they have experienced as a result of the council’s failings.

The council will also reassess the family’s needs and draw up any support plans needed, and if the reassessment identifies a need for an increased level of support it should pay the family a sum equivalent to the cost of any additional missed provision.

The council will also review its transition policy and procedures to ensure the transition process runs smoothly and there are no gaps in the provision of care and support.

Article date: 02 March 2017