The National Autistic Society (NAS) has told a family it is “very sorry” and agreed to pay them £70,000 after it was claimed a 54-year-old autistic man in their care was neglected.
Martyn Hussey moved from Leicestershire into supported living accommodation run by NAS in Croydon in 2015 to be nearer to family members.
During the five years that followed, Mr Hussey’s family said there was a “systematic failure” by the charity “to provide appropriate care”.
His sister Jules Hussey also said workers at the care home did not provide him with the right medication, failed to take him to medical appointments, failed to account for his money or provide agreed upon one-to-one support.
The out-of-court settlement was made after Ms Hussey sought advice from specialist law firm SEN Legal.
Ms Hussey said: “I never thought I would ever have to take legal action against a charity. It goes against everything I believe in. I kept hoping that the NAS would fulfil their promises and ensure Martin got the help and support he needed, deserved and paid for. But they just didn’t want to engage.
“When I found the NAS placement my family thought ‘finally this is it’. We have found a place with the best provider there is for autism support in the UK. We couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Ms Hussey said she did not want to move her brother “from one poor service to another”. But said their attempts to work with NAS to improve the service resulted in members of the family being “demonised”.
She added: “They tried to ignore, dismiss and belittle the failures in Martin’s care – failures which have had a huge impact on his physical and mental wellbeing and his safety.”
A former member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “In the week I started at the service, I was told ‘Your biggest problem will be Jules Hussey’.
“In the meantime, managers ignored the issues I raised about what was wrong with the service, including help and support with one resident whose behaviour was dominating the service and placing staff and other residents at risk. In the end, I felt had no choice but to leave.”
Mr Hussey is now being supported with a new provider in Croydon and told Channel 4 in a news report on Tuesday that he was “happy, with friends and family”.
Caroline Stevens, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We are very sorry that we didn’t get things right for Martin.
“Our staff team worked hard over a number of years to address the family’s concerns, as we would with any worried family, and apologised where we could have done things better. And we were rigorous in our reporting to the authorities, who were in a position to investigate further had they been dissatisfied with how any issues were dealt with.
“Martin’s family remained unhappy with how we responded to their concerns, so brought a civil claim for compensation against our charity, as is their right. However, we felt it was not in anyone’s interest to go through a costly and potentially lengthy legal process, and so in the end we agreed on this settlement.
“We do everything possible to make sure that all our services meet the high standards that are expected by the people we support and their families. Most of our services are rated as good by regulators and family satisfaction is high – but we didn’t get it right for Martin and his family and we want to reiterate our apology to them.”
A talk scheduled for today between Boris Johnson, and ministers Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock about how to tackle the growing crisis in adult social care was called off.
The postponement of the “do or die meeting” came as pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister to come up with a plan for the sector.
Chairman of the Health and Social Care Select Committee Jeremy Hunt told Channel 4: “You can’t fix the NHS without fixing adult social care. It’s a complete false economy.”
He added: “Up until now the treasury has seen it as a lesser political priority than, for example, the NHS. But after the pandemic it’s different. The whole country has seen how amazing care workers are. They are also aware of scandals like some care workers being paid less than minimum wage.”