Coulsdon mother fears for autistic son over 'inappropriate' care
The mother of a severely autistic man said she fears for her son's life after Croydon Council disputed an ombudsman ruling that he should receive 24-hour care.
Deborah Fearn, 60, of Westleigh Avenue, Coulsdon, is convinced that supported living arrangements are inadequate for her 39-year-old son, who also has severe learning disabilities and epilepsy.
He lives in accommodation in Higher Drive, Purley, where care workers can check on him during the day, but he has no supervision at night.
Mrs Fearn's son, who she has asked not to be named, was moved from a Purley residential home in 2008 and his mother has been battling the decision since.
Since moving he has twice smashed the home's conservatory, scattering himself with glass, and in May was found by police walking in the road after absconding during the middle of the night.
Croydon Council care managers have so far refused to move him from the supported accommodation, despite the Local Government Ombudsman recommending that they do, and have even warned they will fight their case in court if the dispute continues.
Croydon Council was forced to pay £1,000 to Deborah and £2,000 to her son after the ombudsman ruled in 2011 it had broken the Mental Capacity Act by failing to consult her before deciding to place her son at Higher Drive.
But Mrs Fearn's son has remained at the home after care managers assured the ombudsman that he was settled there.
Mrs Fearn said: "Supporting living can be brilliant for some people but it is not right for my son. He needs 24-hour, round-the-clock care because he has very high needs.
"He has already absconded once and he could have been killed. Next time he may not be so lucky. It is a constant stress because he is always at threat of absconding."
She said: "The council are keeping him in supported living because it is cheaper."
The council is planning to cut a further £1.25m from its budget for residential care by 2015 by moving people into supported accommodation.
A council spokesman said: “Since its initial decision the ombudsman has agreed with the council that it would be in Mrs Fearn's son's best interests to remain at Higher Drive, however this remains under review.
“We are due to meet with Mrs Fearn this week to review the current situation and decide what course of action is best for her son.
“His needs remain paramount during any decision-making.”