Assessment of student’s needs

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I would like to correct the factual errors in your story headlined: ‘Council delay blighting girl’s university dream’ (July 5).

There is no evidence to suggest that Miss Ritchie requires 24 hour care as your article indicates - in fact the OT assessment completed indicates that Ms Ritchie is independent with majority of her personal care routines, and with the provision of appropriate equipment she will gain further independence.

As the statement in the story pointed out there has been no delay, as the assessment process is ongoing and it always takes a certain amount of time to gather the relevant information from other professionals involved.

West Sussex County Council has contacted the university and has ascertained that it does not need to know until August the outcome of a community care assessment for Miss Ritchie.

This issue relates to the level of accommodation she has requested and not her university course.

It is finally inaccurate to say that WSCC contacted Mrs Ritchie as a result of pressure from the County Times. This department was already in touch with her and her family.

We can confirm however that the initial assessment has taken place, and that a social worker will contact the family to continue the assessment process and determine whether Miss Ritchie is eligible for support from WSCC.

AMANDA ROGERS

Director of Adults’ Services, West Sussuex County Council, County Hall, Chichester

Footnote: Lucinda’s mother, Christine Ritchie, comments:

If Ms Rogers does not believe us she is welcome to visit our home over a 24 hour period to see for herself the daily difficulties faced by Lucinda.

The facts are as follows:

On May 9 an assessment was requested from WSCC for Lucinda. On June 12 I was informed that no action had been taken since my phone call of May 9.

Lucinda then undertook a telephone assessment the same day. I phoned WSCC again on June 27 and was informed that someone would phone me back - no call received. On June 28 I phoned again to raise my concerns. I was promised a call back on June 29 - none received.

On July 2 I phoned WSCC in the morning and late afternoon and advised them about the article and was informed that an email had been sent to the team manager and that the BICA assessment was going to be completed and Oxford Brookes contacted.

At approximately 6.50pm on July 2 I received a phone call informing me that the initial BICA assessment had been completed and passed to the manager. The priority was ‘standard’, when I questioned this, I was informed that there was no guarantee that the assessment would be looked at that week but hopefully it would.

On July 4 I phoned WSCC and was informed that Lucinda’s assessment had been sent to the Adult Social Work Team for urgent allocation. They had no idea when I would be contacted.

Lucinda cannot carry items in her hands and therefore needs a lot of help with personal care but because she lives at home we do it. She knows how to do these things but cannot due to the fact she walks with crutches. She dislocates her bones very frequently and is often in a plaster cast.

It took from May 9 to July 2 for anything to be done. How much longer would it have taken if the County Times had not got involved?