Blind man left without support for 14 months after council reduced his care hours

A visually impaired Westminster man did not have the help he needed for 14 months after the council reduced his support package, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found.

The man, who also has physical health problems, had his support package cut by Westminster City Council after he left hospital in September 2018.

With the help of a representative from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) he complained to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s investigation criticised the council for not including the man’s identified need for support to access the community in his care plan.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“The man in this case had an identified support need and so had a legal right to have that provided by Westminster City Council.

“He should have been given help to get out and access services. He said he would have gone on regular assisted walks, which helped with his physical and mental health needs, but he was denied this for more than a year.

“I’m pleased the council has agreed to my recommendations to put things right, and hope the review I have asked them to make of other visually impaired people’s cases will ensure no other people will be similarly affected in future.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the man and pay him £2,000 to be offset against any outstanding care charges he owes the council.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to review all cases of visually impaired adults receiving adult social care funding to ensure that where they have an eligible unmet need for support to access the community, that there is provision in their personal budget and care and support plan to meet that need. It will also remind staff to check there is funding in a person’s care and support plan to meet each identified unmet eligible need.

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