Councils accept guidance over ‘abandoned’ client

Two councils have accepted recommendations
made by independent inquiries into the case of a man with a severe
learning difficulty who was “abandoned” at a residential home for
almost 12 years.

Northamptonshire and Essex Councils each
launched independent inquiries after the Registered Homes Tribunal
severely criticised them for failing to protect the man from
appalling living conditions. Both inquiries have now reported their
findings to the respective councils.

The man, known as AT, was placed in a care
home in Northamptonshire by Essex Council, which failed to review
his case properly for almost 12 years.

His plight was eventually uncovered by the
Northants registration and inspection unit, but the tribunal found
it was guilty of an “inexcusable” delay before removing AT from the

The tribunal concluded earlier this year that
AT had been kept locked in his room in “conditions of squalor and
degradation” which were “an affront to human dignity”, and that
“local authorities who should have been in a position to protect
his human rights had appeared to have failed in their duty of

Leo Bishop, director of learning difficulty
services in Essex, said: “I deeply regret any distress caused to
the family of AT.

“However, the findings from the independent
inquiry demonstrate that this is an isolated case and doesn’t
reflect the practice across the county.”

Bishop said Essex social services were
“committed to implementing all of the recommendations in the report
to ensure that this kind of situation doesn’t happen again”.

Recommendations include the need to create
closer links with Essex’s own inspection unit, and to improve cross
boundary working and staff training.

A spokeswoman for Essex social services said
it was unlikely that someone in AT’s position would now be placed
outside the county. She said the council’s current policy was to
place clients near networks of family and friends. AT is now living
in a home near his sister in Essex.

A version of the Essex report is expected to
be published within the next few weeks.

The review into the actions taken by the
Northants registration and inspection unit was also launched in the
wake of the tribunal’s criticisms. It, too, made a series of

These included ensuring that inspectors focus
all inspections on the quality of life of residents, and that
systems for recording and co-ordinating investigations into
complaints are tightened up.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council has
accepted all the recommendations and is already taking steps to
carry them out.”

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