Herefordshire social workers leave man for nearly a year in unsuitable care home

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A Herefordshire man was left for 11 months longer than he should in an unsuitable care home, because busy social workers delayed finding him the appropriate care.

The young man, who had a range of needs including autism spectrum disorder, was living in a care home in the county, but an assessment found that home could not adequately meet his needs.

Staff at the home were concerned about the man’s behaviour; he was becoming increasingly withdrawn and isolated and spent a lot of his time in his room. Social workers agreed to find a new home for him in the ‘medium term’, however despite the man’s mother pushing the council to find him a new home, and suggesting a possible placement, it took social workers 11 months to re-house him.

During that time, the man lost out on one suitable placement because social workers did not pursue that home when it had a vacancy.

While he remained in the unsuitable home, staff there struggled to implement the recommendations of a speech and language therapist for the man and did not develop a specific communication plan for him.  The council did not ensure the care home developed the plan, and did not ensure the home implemented all the speech and language recommendations.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:

“As a result of our investigation, the council recognises it should have done more to proactively find the young man a suitable care placement. 

“It could have concurrently made enquiries with a number of homes to speed up the process. Care Act Guidance states that choice of care should not be limited to placements within a council’s area or those with which they already work.

“The council also acknowledged workload pressures as a factor in the delay; councils need to ensure social workers get adequate support to meet their casework needs.

“I welcome the steps Herefordshire council has now taken to remedy the complaint.  The young man has now been appropriately placed and is making positive progress in the new setting.” 

To remedy the situation, Herefordshire council has agreed to apologise to the man and his mother and provide further training for social workers.

The council has also agreed to pay the man £2,000 to be made available for activities he would enjoy or possessions he would like. It will also provide £500 to the man’s mother in recognition of the time and trouble she went to in pursuing the complaint

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