Ombudsman rebukes Kirkless and Sheffield over adaptation failings

Local government ombudsman Anne Seex today rebuked two councils in separate cases for “serious failures” in arranging adaptations to the homes of people who had recently been made disabled.

In one report, Seex found that Kirklees Council had taken over 18 months to meet the needs of a young man, Mr H, who unexpectedly became quadriplegic while receiving treatment for leukaemia. Since his discharge from hospital in 2005 he has been entirely dependent on his parents for 24-hour care.

‘Impenetrable and disrespectful decisions’

The council failed to arrange necessary adaptations to the home until April 2007, confining Mr H to two unsuitable rooms. Seex said his family “had to battle against apparently impenetrable, insensitive and disrespectful decisions and processes” when dealing with the council.

She recommended that Mr H be paid £7,000 to reflect the unreasonable restriction on his day-to-day life, and that his parents receive payment for each week they were left without the adaptations. She also called for his father to receive £1,000 in recognition of the time taken in pursuing the complaint. The council has yet to respond.

‘Unnecessary indignity and inconvenience’

The second case concerned a man, Mr N, who became paralysed from the chest down following an accident. Sheffield Council was found to have caused Mr N to “suffer unnecessary indignity and inconvenience” from spending 10-14 weeks without access to washing facilities or a toilet.

As a result he could only defecate by lying on an incontinence sheet on his bed and manually removing the faeces. He was also forced to borrow £10,000 from relatives to fund necessary adaptations to his home due to delays in receiving the disabled facilities grant.

The council has since apologised to Mr N and reimbursed £14,340 for the costs he incurred in funding the adaptations work himself. He was also paid a further £2,000 compensation in recognition of the distress that he experienced and his trouble in pursuing the complaint.

Seex said this was a satisfactory remedy.

Related articles

Ombudsman rules against Leeds in disabled facilities grant case
Kirklees ordered to pay compensation
Ombudsman finds failure at Sheffield


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