CIVIC chiefs are set to pay out more than £40,000 in compensation to carers over the closure of Kentish Road Respite Centre.

It comes after a report identified a number of failings which caused carers  “avoidable uncertainty and distress”.

The authority has come under fire after investigations into the way it dealt with the closure of the Shirley-based centre showed faults in care assessments, carers assessments review and poor communication between council staff, councillors, carers and service users.

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The reports acknowledge that the council has acted on the recommendation that watchdogs made .

But the documents have sparked calls for those responsible for the failings to resign.

Campaigners said their fight is not over and are set to protest outside the civic centre on Tuesday when the reports will be discussed at an extraordinary governance committee meeting at 5pm.


As reported, the centre supports people living with a learning disability and their carers.

Its closure was proposed in 2014 and delayed until November 2017.

The partial-reopening of the centre was announced last year and was the first major move of councillor Christopher Hammond’s tenure as leader.

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Now, following an investigation of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), carers are set to receive compensation for the cost of the respite they were entitled and did not receive and for the distress.

Many of them will receive between £250 and £500 each for the “avoidable time and trouble” and the “avoidable distress due to the fault identified”.

But they said this figure is offensive.

Carer Lisa Stead said: “You can’t put a price on what they have put us through but a more generous amount would have been appreciated,  £500 is pathetic. This compensation is an offensive amount of money.”

Ms Stead, who along with other carers campaigned to keep the centre open,  described the past four years as a “daily, living nightmare”.

She said she was not shocked when she saw the outcome of the independent review that looked into the events and circumstances between 2014 and 2017, when the centre was closed in a bid to save money and offer more personalised services.

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The review, which has been published ahead of the meeting on Tuesday, says when decision to close the respite centre was taken in 2015 it was known that the alternatives for individuals with higher needs were insufficient to meet the demand after the closure and that the timescale for implementation was ” unrealistic and unattainable” Two progress reports had been required by cabinet but were not provided by officers, the report adds. 

The review also says that carers of the service users were sent a letter in April 2017,  giving six month’s notice of closure.

This, according to the document, was sent before cabinet endorsement, the completion of assessments and care plans and the completion of procurement arrangements regarding new alternative provision.

The reports also show how a delay of a month in opening Weston Court (one of the alternatives proposed) meant there was no opportunity for an overnight visit to transition to the new service before Kentish Road closed.

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Campaigner Amanda Guest described the failings as catastrophic. She added: “We are calling on those responsible that have failed us to resign with immediate effect.

“We hope the outcome from the governance meeting will acknowledge and compensate the families affected,  awarding them appropriately for undue stress they’ve suffered.”

Ms Guest claims council staff members responsible for the failings are still working for the authority.

When asked to confirm that and if any action will be taken in lights of the recent reports, the authority said to be  unable to comment further until the governance committee has met and discussed the findings. Conservative councillor Ivan White said officers and cabinet members should now “seriously consider their position”.

But while the Ombudsman investigation identified failings, it also acknowledged that by April 2018 most of the recommendations made to the authority had been completed, including the establishment of  a system for tracking the implementation of cabinet decisions.

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A new integrated health and social care team is also  in place. Following the reports, in a statement the authority apologised and said it recognises that there were issues and commissioned independent reviews to make sure lessons are learnt.

As reported, the council said Kentish Road Respite Centre will reopen full-time in July. Cllr Christopher Hammond, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “This was not the council’s finest hour, and mistakes were made.

“As a council, one of our most important jobs is to make sure vulnerable people, their families and carers are well supported and cared for.

“A huge amount of work has happened in the last year to improve our services, and we are all committed to continuing that work and making sure there is the right mix of care in the city for those who need it.”