Health

Disabled man 'put up for auction' on care website

James Knight and his sister Emma Image copyright Emma Knight
Image caption James Knight's sister, Emma, was shocked to find his details on a website

The family of a man with a learning disability say they are horrified that their local council put him "up for auction" on a care website.

Emma Knight found Devon County Council was inviting companies to bid to look after her 45-year-old brother James.

The website listed other personal details that James's family say could easily identify him.

Devon County Council says it was not an auction and it needs to be open and honest with care providers.

James Knight suffered brain damage at birth, and for 28 years lived in a residential home in Exeter.

'Sensitive to individual'

But when that home closed, Devon County Council listed him on a website available to all care companies across the county to invite them to accommodate him.

Image copyright Emma Knight
Image caption Emma Knight has complained to the Information Commissioner's Office on behalf of her brother

Emma Knight told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours: "The care home he's in at the moment identified my brother on this tender website and told me about it.

"There's a huge amount of detail on there from every aspect of James's life - personal, as well as his day-to-day routine."

The website also listed what the potential care providers could expect to get from the council for James's care, which was £500 a week.

Devon County Council said: "We would like to stress that this process is not a bidding process, nor is it an auction to the lowest offer.

"It's a process that has to be sensitive to the individual and their family, and honest and open with potential care providers."

'Public knowledge'

Emma has complained to the Information Commissioner's Office about the sharing of her brother's details and she thinks inviting care homes to bid for James's care is wrong.

She says: "I think that this sort of tendering should be stopped and it should be public knowledge who is listed on this website."

James's family has now found him a new home that costs more than the advertised tender. Devon County Council has agreed to pay.

Peter Hay, who speaks for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: "A number of councils have moved to this individual purchasing arrangement to support greater personalisation of care.

"We're trying to improve quality - it's not about price. The individual's information is not publicly available. "

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said it did not know how many councils used similar online tools to place people in need of residential care.

However, six local authorities, including Birmingham, are using an online tool that does the reverse - allowing the public to view places available in care facilities that may be suitable for their relatives.

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