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Disabled woman waited more than a year for right recliner chair

PUBLISHED: 12:37 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:37 06 December 2019

Norfolk County Council's headwaurters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Norfolk County Council's headwaurters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Archant

A disabled woman with mental health conditions was left waiting for the right recliner armchair for more than a year, causing her "significant and avoidable distress" - a watchdog has ruled.

And the Local Government and Social Care ombudsman said Norfolk County Council was also wrong in reducing support to help the woman, who said she had become "a prisoner in my own home", get out and about in the community.

The case of the woman, known as Ms Y, was referred to the ombudsman by a mental health charity worker.

The woman had been initially assessed by the council in 2017 and provided with support.

But she said she needed help to get to social and leisure activities and was told she would have to make separate referrals for assessments of social care needs relating to her physical disability and her mental health needs.

When her wheelchair needs were assessed in October 2017, the council said Ms Y should not remain sat in a wheelchair all day and she was recommended an assessment for a riser recliner armchair.

But due to "a lot of urgent referrals and loss of experienced staff" she was not assessed until April 23 - and then an armchair, not a riser recliner was ordered.

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A later assessment recommended a riser recliner which she was given, but Ms Y had problems with it. A new one was ordered in November 2018, but did not arrive until January this year.

The ombudsman said the council was at fault and had caused her "significant and avoidable distress".

The council also took eight months to consider her needs around accessing the community and reduced her support without review or assessment, which the ombudsman said there was "no reasoning" for.

The ombudsman added the council repeatedly tried to dismiss various needs as "health needs", to separate mental health related social care needs and should have arranged co-ordinated assessments with the NHS.

The ombudsman ordered the council to apologise, reinstate Ms Y's support, pay her compensation and review joint working.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "Having reviewed the decision of the ombudsman, we completely accept their ruling.

"We've been in contact with Ms Y and have apologised for the error and for all distress caused, while the £1,200 in financial compensation has already been paid.

"Our team has reviewed Ms Y's case and identified where the error lay, which has allowed us to take steps to ensure it will not be repeated in either Mrs Y's case or that of any other resident."

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