During February 2010, the dismembered body of 70 year old Mr C was found under concrete in the back garden of his home. In September 2010, Mr C’s son, who was a 22 year old undergraduate, was found guilty of his father’s murder. The Thames Valley Police had become concerned that between August 2008 and February 2009, when all contact with this older man had ceased, neither the NHS nor Adult Social Care raised concerns about Mr C who was a Direct Payments Recipient. In the absence of information to the contrary, both Adult Social Care and the support agency commissioned to support all Direct Payments Recipients believed that Mr C employed Personal Assistants. However, the police were unable to trace them. Also, it has become subsequently apparent that Mr C’s son might have fallen within the statutory definition of a carer but there was no evidence that he had been recognised as such by either the NHS or Adult Social Care.
- This Serious Case Review highlights flawed practices in Buckinghamshire’s Adult Social Care with regards to the oversight of Community Care Assessments and Direct Payments. The police investigation and murder trial revealed more of the complicated father-son relationship than was known by Adult Social Care. Mr C was a complex 70 year old with an array of health support needs and yet his circumstances were not deemed to merit anything other than a passive and remote degree of social work oversight.
- Valuable information was not committed to records. Regrettably, social worker expertise was not deployed – not even in a professional advisory capacity.
- Irrespective of a Community Care assessment, remarkably little was known about Mr C, or his son’s care-giving. It appears that the way that social workers undertook their role meant that it promoted access to Direct Payments without professional challenge as to need, appropriateness or outcome. Their role appeared to be reduced to that of administrative approval.
- The son’s willingness to assume care-giving responsibilities for his father was not verified.
- The lack of scrutiny of Mr C’s care presents a stark picture. Policies and procedures which were in place to audit public expenditure were not followed.
- Care appeared to operate under the assumption that what was agreed would occur. It appears too that Mr C was regarded as a client with a less complex care package and, as such, was subject to a light-touch reviewing process captured via arms-length recording.
- This Serious Case Review highlights major shortcomings in the oversight of public funds by Buckinghamshire Adult Social Care. It appears that Mr C received Direct Payments which he did not use for the purposes intended. In turn, his son continued to access these monies.