Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Autistic man had human rights infringed due to lack of support, Ombudsman finds

Bradford council’s failure to provide support to an autistic man has put his employment, family life and sense of self at risk, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man, who lives with his partner and children in the city, needs support to go about his daily life, including working to provide for his family. He complained to the Ombudsman that City of Bradford infringed his human rights by taking four months to complete an assessment of his care and support needs and a further 16 months to provide the services he needed.

When those services were provided – at just four and a half hours per week, some three and a half hours less than recommended by the social worker’s assessment – they were not enough, and his partner had to provide additional support.

The Ombudsman’s investigation into the complaint found there was confusion about who should support the man. The council wrongly suggested it should be the local mental health team, despite him not having a mental health disorder.

Councils need autism awareness training

The investigation found very few managers at the council had received autism awareness training and none had received specialist training. Just 110 out of around 800 frontline staff had received training.

The man was not offered an advocate when he first contacted the council. When the assessment did eventually take place the social worker’s lack of understanding about autism led to an ineffective assessment, significantly delaying the council meeting his support needs.

The Ombudsman also found the council did not properly assess the wife’s needs as a carer and provide her with support too, and also failed to deal properly with the man’s complaint.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “I am concerned that there has been a significant lack of corporate understanding of the needs of people with autism at all levels in City of Bradford Council.

“This lack of awareness has led to what happened in this case. Throughout these events, and in part because of the lack of support, the man’s ability to work decreased to such an extent he was unable to do so.

“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and has agreed to make improvements to the services it provides to people with autism in the city. It has also pledged to revisit other cases from the past two years, and offer the same remedy to others who may have also been affected by the issues raised.”

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