Saturday, 28 July 2007

OM ... OM ... OM ...


Weak title, I know, to introduce the Local Government OMbudsman, but you know how it is when you have been praying, keeping your fingers and toes crossed, wishing, saying little spells, even meditating (OM OM OM) and touching your favourite bit of lucky wood, and then it comes right, it happens and you think, crikey, which little superstition actually worked this time !
None of them. Just the Universe turning and the System working. And just a little smidge, a light sprinkling of fairy dust.

Way way back in April I finally plucked up courage to ask the LGO to investigate Dorset social services delay in providing wheelchair access into and around my home, first discussed with my social services Occupational Therapist in 2002 and formally requested in 2003.
An LGO Investigator came to see me in June and yesterday he emailed me to confirm that:

" ... On behalf of the Local Government Ombudsman, I am investigating your complaint.
That, since March 2003, the Council has delayed adaptations to your home. ... ... ... As a result, ... ... ... . You have also suffered stress (exacerbating your health problems), financial loss, a limited social life and have fallen in your home."

(I have thought long and hard on whether to blog it here, as I don't think I am entirely anonymous anymore, and even though the Ombudsman's findings when published, will be in the public domain for anyone to read, the Complainant is not identified. However, blogging is an essential part of my support system, and I need to put it out here. It is what is happening to me.)

The Investigator goes on to summarise my complaint, which is lengthy, and not noted here because DCC have yet to answer my complaint, and until the Ombudsman makes his decision on their response, they are innocent until proven guilty, except this is not a process in a court of law so there is no criminal or civil case being investigated. Just an 'Ombudsmanial' process. I don't know what the proper word for it is either.

What decided me to contact the Local Government Ombudsman is that the LGO can DIRECT a local authority how to put right their systems so that they are acting correctly in their procedures, systems and in arriving at their decisions. So not only can the LGO tell a local authority what to do to put right an individual's complaint, and order compensation to be paid to the complainant if appropriate, but also the fact of a complaint being made through the LGO ensures that the local authority has to change its bad practices, which will benefit other service users.
In the bigger picture, I am hoping that the Director of Dorset social services is able to use the LGO's directions (whatever they may be) to ensure the social services directorate has its necessary share of the County budget (from central government) to fulfil its statutory duties under the 'Fair Access to Care' criteria and the central government guidance on 'Providing Housing Adaptations for Disabled People' .

So, having got to this stage in the process, I am bursting to celebrate, but its early days yet.

And finally the Company converting the VW Caddy into my Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle have restored my faith in them, sorted out the adaptations specification with Motability, which I have confirmed I am happy with, and they have given me a delivery date for next week, and I even know the registration number so I know it really really now exists and is mine, all mine. I will soon be able to wave from my WAV !


And, no, I don't need them to provide a man to push me - this is one of those occasions when all that is needed are batteries ! And a powerchair with a small turning circle to fit in my small cottage, part-funded by the N.H.S., topped up with donations begged from charities, for delivery when the adaptations for wheelchair access are, finally, in place. Five years on, and counting.

Pride Quantum 600 - geraldsimondsdotcodotuk

Any questions on LGO, grants for adaptations, or equipment, please comment, or email me in confidence.

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Blogger BloggingMone said...

I will only whisper congratulations so far for your home improvement and keep my fingers and toes crossed for it to come to a good end. But I shout CONGATULATIONS!!! for your brandnew WAV. and that power chair looks very sophisticated. A friend of mine is using a very similar one. She is a small person with brittle bones and her power chair is featuring a kind of zigzagging construction to lift the chair up. This is very practical to reach things, but usually she is making use of it when she is angry at someone. She will then press a button, shoot up like a rocket and start yelling at that poor person's face. The mere sight of the scene and the utter bewilderment in her opponent's face always makes me turn away with a fit of laughter.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 11:31:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Good Morning Blogging Mone -
Oh YES ... your friend's power rise function on her chair - fantastic, just what is needed to empower every wheelchair user. I love it.

I cannot justify that function in my indoor wheelchair spec or the recline, what they call tilt-in-space, when the seat moves when the back is reclined. Very comfy.

I have used the exact same wheelchair as an outdoor chair for five years now, and need the same wheel pattern/manouevrability as my outside one, so as not to confuse my sense of where I am in space, so same model. And have used it, and racked up the speed from 2 to 5 (5 miles per hour !) as a quick-get-away on those rare occasions when one DOES think of a withering repost that leaves the offended-other open mouthed in astonishment.

I have the confirmation assessment with the indoor wheelchair tomorrow with the NHS wheelchair service - and as they are friendly bunch of ladies, I will tell them the little tale of your friend, with full anonyminity.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 11:54:00 BST  
Blogger seahorse said...

This is a very encouraging post and I am increasingly interested in the LGO process.
Needless to say, with my brain fogginess, I haven't mentioned it yet to my advocate. But I am already tiring of what you quite correctly described as the 'adversarial' approach. It's all very well firing off letters of complaint, and when they are from a solicitor you hope they carry more weight. But will it make anything happen any more quickly? Or are complaints procedures just a right royal pain in the proverbial?

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 16:51:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

I would recommend non-adversarial every time for anyone with energy (lack of) issues. However, you have to go through the local authority's complaints procedure first, need to have tried that route, before LGO can look at a case. However, I explained to LGO help line that without an advocate I could not, and had tried through my MP without appreciable change, so LGO were happy to take it on.

So, yes you have to do something first, but if you can, rein back your solicitor, because they are trained in adversarial methods, and although that has its place, clients can get a bit trampled in the fuss. But what can you do, someone has to do it for you !

Advice here: (to be taken or left on the shelf). This comes from no legal training whatsoever, just a year of working with one of the best adversarial employment lawyers in the land, boy did he make people jump to attention when he fired off a letter to them !!

So, as soon as you can; tell your solicitor/advocate that you cannot do anything stressful, confirm it to them in writing, then it becomes the solicitor/advocte's responsibility to look after your best interests, including your health in the light of that information you have given them. Then ask them what they think of, of the LGO as THE NEXT STAGE.

Phone the LGO or go to the website
where they explain the process and how to contact them. Initially I telephoned and explained disabilities making action difficult. They emailed the form to me which I played with for a couple of weeks before finalising it - took me ages.

If LGO is the way to go, or the next stage, ask your advocate if they can prepare the LGO application for you for your approval.

And email me if you want to mull this over outside this public domain.

Good luck.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 19:37:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

Message for Blogging Mone - I showed your excellent comment(modified to be anonymous) about your friend in her wheelchair, using the rise facility to bring her up to eye level, to the wheelchair service today, and they thought it was excellent, and a good example of wheelchairs empowering their users. So good, that they are taking it to a staff meeting tomorrow, to share with others in the wheelchair service.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007 at 19:35:00 BST  
Blogger Trevor R Nunn said...

Sorry but you are wrong. The LGO (Local Government Ombudsman) can only suggest a remedy if they find maladministration (which they very rarely do). They can't tell a Council what to do. The Council can, and often do, ignore an LGO's suggested remedy with impunity.

Please visit
for the truth about the Local Government Ombudsman.

Here's another

Good luck in your fight for justice. PS. Although the LGO have to keep your identity secret you are under no such obligation. You are free to publish your story any time you want.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 21:45:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Thank you Trevor for your comment, and I shall keep my hope for the LGO directives intact, until proved otherwise.

Identity - my misgivings on publishing my story under my own name and location perhaps mirrors your reluctance to be profiled on Blogger ?

Thank you for the links, I will follow them up.

Thursday, 30 August 2007 at 09:13:00 BST  
Blogger Trevor R Nunn said...

Hi Sally

I have no need for a blogger profile because I have always included my real name and location (together with contact and other personal details)in my blog, articles, story and LGO watchers forum postings.

Best wishes Trevor

Wednesday, 12 September 2007 at 22:29:00 BST  

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