Safeguarding failings by social work staff left a learning disabled couple at the mercy of a relative who used power of attorney to abuse them for six years, an investigation has found.
The couple, Mr and Mrs D, suffered financial and emotional abuse at the hands of Mr D’s brother that “could have been avoided or lessened” but for statutory services’ failure to intervene, found the report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. Though the watchdog praised council social work staff for working hard to support the Ds, it slammed poor information sharing and case recording – including a two-and-a half year gap in case records – a lack of care co-ordination and a failure to carry out risk assessments.
Council managers also failed to act on serious concerns recorded by a community care officer, while the problems were underpinned by a lack of understanding of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
The brother, Mr E, was granted power of attorney, enabling him to take decisions about the couple’s welfare and financial affairs should they lose capacity, in 2003. Though a GP deemed that the couple had capacity to grant consent to this, the commission found that it was unlikely they understood the implications of the powers they were handing over to him and were pressured into doing so.
In addition, the community learning disability team had not passed on concerns that it already had about Mr E’s undue influence over the couple to the GP, which could have altered his view of their capacity to consent.
Source: Community Care
16th February 2012