Wheelchair user told bathing is not vital

    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.

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

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

    An occupational therapist 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 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 ombudsman said the council’s charging policy was unlawful.

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    to foster a third child withdrawn unless she apologised for being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

    Noting that no record of the disputed phone call had been kept by
    the council, the ombudsman said the response had been “harsh and
    wholly disproportionate”.

    – 2003-4 digest from www.lgo.org.uk/digest.htm

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