The National Autistic Society has apologised and paid a £70,000 settlement to the family of a former service user who accused the charity of neglect.
The family of Martin Hussey, who lived in NAS-provided supported living from 2015 to 2020 in Croydon, south London, said the charity had failed to protect him from physical abuse and sexual harassment.
The charity said it agreed to make the out-of-court payment to avoid a “costly and potentially lengthy legal process”.
Hussey’s sister Jules told Channel 4 News that the charity was “obstructing and demonising at every stage when we tried to make changes”.
She said Hussey, who is no longer housed by the NAS, was given medication incorrectly, violence in the home was not managed, and he was not receiving the one-to-one support that was in his contract.
She told Channel 4 News that Hussey was not safe in his home.
In addition, a former carer at Hussey’s accommodation told Channel 4 News they left their job because they did not think the residents were safe there.
Jules Hussey began legal proceedings against the NAS, which agreed a £70,000 out-of-court settlement.
The NAS told Third Sector the concerns raised in the claim were not accepted by the charity, and had not been confirmed by any independent investigation.
The settlement offer was made “without prejudice”, taking into account the likely legal costs that would be incurred in defending the matter to trial.
The supported living facility was inspected by the CQC and was rated “good”.
The story has shed light on supported living accommodation standards more widely. Jules told Channel 4 News she feared many more older people with autism were receiving minimal support.
Caroline Stevens, chief executive of the NAS, said: “We are very sorry that we didn’t get things right for Martin.
“Our staff team worked hard over a number of years to address the family’s concerns, as we would with any worried family, and apologised where we could have done things better.
“And we were rigorous in our reporting to the authorities, which were in a position to investigate further had they been dissatisfied with how any issues were dealt with.
“Martin’s family remained unhappy with how we responded to their concerns, so brought a civil claim for compensation against our charity, as is their right.
“We felt it was not in anyone’s interest to go through a costly and potentially lengthy legal process, and so agreed on this settlement.
“We do everything possible to make sure that all our services meet the high standards that are expected by the people we support and their families.
“Most of our services are rated as good by regulators and family satisfaction is high – but we didn’t get it right for Martin and his family and we want to apologise to them.”