Bolton Council’s Chief Executive has issued a personal apology to families after an independent report criticised the way it ran a supported housing accommodation for disabled adults.
Chief Executive of the council, Sean Harriss, has spoken to the families of three people who lived at the property, referred to in the report as House H, and in addition to apologising for past inadequacies, given them his personal assurance that the organisation will make significant improvements to the service.
The independent review covered the entire disability network (supported housing) service and found that there was an overall sense that it was a “good” service and that the majority of staff provided compassionate care and a warm and caring atmosphere.
However, the report states that the service lacked clear leadership and strong management and required a fundamental review. It was such issues which prevented the detection of ill treatment of two residents by two former members of staff, which resulted in a criminal conviction in June this year.
Chief Executive of Bolton Council, Sean Harriss, said: “We take full responsibility for the concerns highlighted in the report and intend to take swift action in order to improve the service. We accept all the recommendations made by the report author and have written a detailed action plan.
“I have personally, and on behalf of the council, apologised to the families of the service users affected by this situation. I have also thanked the whistle-blowers for having the courage to raise the issues, and apologised to them for the ordeal they have endured.
“While we acknowledge that this report has highlighted significant flaws, which we will rectify, we would like to thank those employees that work within the service who do provide a compassionate, warm and caring environment for the residents.
“We would like to reassure all families who receive adult social care that we will make significant, rapid improvements to ensure that this should never happen again.”
Bolton Council’s Cabinet met on Monday, October 15 and was presented with the independent report. A cabinet report highlighted the key issues and the action plan was approved.
The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “We accept the report’s recommendation for a fundamental review of the service and are confident that immediate action will result in clear improvements for what is generally a good network.
“We have apologised to the families concerned and will be working hard to reassure them and others that any inappropriate behaviour will be picked up and dealt with immediately in the future. We will also be training staff to feel confident they can raise any concerns and that they will be dealt with.”
The independent report is available to read via the link on the right hand side of this page.
Staff, trade unions, service users and their families will be briefed on the contents of the report.
The council’s disability network (supported housing) service comprises 45 supported housing properties, providing 24-hour care for around 160 service users with learning and/mental health disabilities.
Each property is home to two, three or four service users who are cared for by the Council.
Around 300 staff work in the properties on a shift basis.
Two former members of staff were found guilty of neglect/ill treatment of a person without capacity contrary to Section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Charges included restraining an individual, pushing, pulling and pinning against a wall, throwing a jug of water over a service user and spraying aerosol in her face.
The independent investigation and report was directed and written by the former chief executive of Wigan and Blackburn Councils, Steve Jones, who has a long track record on adult social care and learning disabilities issues.