Mencap is calling for an investigation into Harrow Council’s care review process which it claims is “riding roughshod” over a key learning disability policy.
The charity complained to the council after the reviews of six people’s care were arranged at short notice without involving key stakeholders and after copies of review documents were withheld from service users and their advocates.
Deven Pillay, chief executive of Harrow Mencap, argued that the council carried out a number of “quick” reviews as part of its cost cutting strategy during the consultation period to assess whether to change its eligibility criteria to “critical” needs only.
“We would argue that anyone can live in supported living with the right care plan but it’s not about that at the moment. It’s about creating space so that the Council can bring in expensive placements,” said Pillay.
The government’s Valuing People policy aims to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and carers by supporting independence, choice and inclusion in the community.
All of the six service users assessed by the Harrow Learning Disability Team had “critical” needs and lived in residential care homes. HLDT assessed that a number of individuals were ready to move into semi-independent living accommodation but Mencap and family members are challenging the decisions.
Pillay acknowledged the Council’s financial difficulties but said: “There is a clear pattern emerging in Harrow of shifting the budgetary burden from social care to supported living.”
One service user received 24-hour support for two years but after being assessed, without his family present, he was told he could move into supported living with only five hours of daily support within days of the decision being made.
Another elderly service user said: “I was given two hours notice of a review and then told I needed to move. I didn’t have my family or friends with me at the meeting.”
In another case, a 42-year-old woman with Downs Syndrome was assessed without her mother’s knowledge and then sent a 28-day termination notice to move to supported living accommodation – despite the service user, mother and carer disputing the decision.
A Council spokesman said: “The Council responded in writing to the complaint raised by Mencap in July 2007. Under the Council’s Corporate Complaints Process Mencap were offered the opportunity to proceed to the next stage of the process if they were dissatisfied with the Council’s initial response. Mediation was also offered. Mencap have not as yet taken up either option.”
Pillay said he will be contacting the Council to request an investigation into its complaint.
A life like any other campaign
Essential Information on Learning Disabilities
Charity wins review of Harrow’s adult care eligibility criteria
Contact the author