Bathing is not an ‘essential activity’ for disabled in council care, watchdog finds

A disabled homeless man was denied access to a bath for 17
months because social services did not consider bathing to be an
“essential activity”, according to a report by the
Local Government Ombudsman, writes Craig Kenny.

The case is one of 61 highlighted in a digest
published last week, taken from a total of 19,000 complaints made
to the ombudsman last year.

The report tells of a wheelchair user, Mr Johnson, who became
homeless after a divorce and was placed in a hostel without
disabled access to bathing facilities.

A community occupational therapist had advised the council that the
hostel was suitable because, “according to social services
criteria, bathing was not an essential activity unless there was an
identified medical need”, it says.

Finding maladministration, the Ombudsman said that this would not
be the view of most people.

In another case a homeless single father was charged £23 a
week extra for having furniture in his temporary accommodation. He
had agreed to the charge while it was paid for by housing benefit,
but refused to pay it himself once he found a job.

The council was criticised for its inflexible charging policy,
which the ombudsman considered “irrational and

In a third case, a Mrs Baker was threatened with having her
application to foster a third child withdrawn unless she apologised
for being rude to a council officer on the phone.

Noting that no record of the disputed phone call had been kept by
the council, the ombudsman found that threatening to withdraw
Baker’s application had been a “harsh and wholly
disproportionate response”.

2003/04 digest from



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