June 22, 2021
The sister of an autistic man, who received payment from his support provider after being accused of negligence, said there were “so many gaps” in “the whole” care system.
Speaking exclusively to Channel 4 News, Jules Hussey said she was shocked by the “horrific” care her brother Martin, 54, received in his supportive home.
She took legal action against the National Autistic Society (NAS), which ran the South London service, after listing failures in Martin’s care, including failure to protect him from physical abuse and sexual harassment.
The NAS settled before reaching court and agreed to pay £ 70,000 in compensation, but Ms Hussey believes their case illustrates a systemic failure that potentially exposes thousands of vulnerable people to neglect.
NAS Chief Executive Officer Caroline Stevens apologized to Mr Hussey and his family, adding that they had “worked hard” for years to resolve family issues and were “rigorous in our dealings with authorities”.
“He was not safe”
Mr Hussey’s family believed he would receive the best possible care when they found him a place in a supportive home in Croydon in 2015 run by NAS.
In the years that followed, Ms Hussey documented numerous lapses in her brother’s care, including a time he was locked out of his home at night, occasions when he missed medical appointments and a “Poor assistance” for his personal hygiene.
“It makes me sick, the idea of suing a charity,” she told the show. “(But) he was not safe, he was not at all safe in his own house.”
She added: “Within three months of Martin moving in, his fingernails were so long they cut through his skin.”
A former caregiver at Mr Hussey’s housing, whom we do not name to protect their identity, supported Ms Hussey’s accusations and said they left because they did not believe the residents were safe.
“So many failures”
Supervised accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities is not regulated by the Commission for the quality of care (CQC).
Last year, the NAS said residents were at risk of abuse because homes were not inspected.
Ms Hussey said: “There are so many failures in the system… Assisted living is kind of falling into a vacuum and people don’t really check that on a regular basis.”
She added: “It scares me how many hundreds, if not thousands, if not more elderly people with autism are simply stuck in a home with assistance and left to be given the minimum.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to overhaul the adult welfare system.
Local authorities, charities and care officials have repeatedly warned the sector is on its knees and facing a funding crunch.
The Prime Minister was due to meet with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chancellor Rishi Sunak today to make decisions on funding for adult social care, but the meeting was canceled.
‘We are really sorry’
NAS Managing Director Caroline Stevens said: “We are so sorry that we did not get it right for Martin.
“Our staff team have worked hard for several years to address family concerns, as we would with any worried family, and have apologized where we could have done things better. And we have been rigorous in our relations with the authorities. “
She added that the charity felt that it was “in no one’s best interests” to go through an “expensive and potentially lengthy legal process”, so they agreed to settle the legal process.
She said: “We do everything we can to ensure that all of our services meet the high standards expected by the people we support and their families.
“Most of our service is considered good by regulators and family satisfaction is high – but we haven’t done it right for Martin and his family and we want to reiterate our apologies to them.”
Report: Victoria Macdonald
Producer: Toby Bakare
Camera Operator: Stephen Hird