How a community care solicitor in Brighton successfully challenged a Social Services decision to refuse to pay anything towards care home fees.
Mrs Hunt, aged 92, has lived in a care home for 18 months and was self-funding until her savings ran out.
Mrs Hunt and her family feel strongly that she benefits from residential care, which prevents her becoming socially isolated and meets her daily care needs. If she lived by herself Mrs Hunt would struggle with meal preparation and remembering to eat and drink enough. She has had numerous falls since her mobility has declined and experienced difficulties with her continence care.
The family asked Social Services for a care needs and financial assessment when Mrs Hunt’s savings dropped to £20,000. The Social Worker concluded that Mrs Hunt did not meet the Council’s criteria for a residential care placement and would not pay anything towards the cost.
The Social Worker proposed that Mrs Hunt should move from the care home to a sheltered flat in the community. The first step was for Mrs Hunt to move to an assessment flat where the Social Worker could establish how she managed the various activities of daily living, with four short care visits each day.
Mrs Hunt and her family did not agree with the suggested move to an assessment flat. Her family feared that she would be left unattended overnight, and for long periods each day and would be unable to manage her own needs. In addition, Mrs Hunt had recently been diagnosed with Dementia. She suffered anxiety and low mood due to the Council’s decision to return her to community living.
Mrs Hunt’s 65 year old daughter tried to get Social Services to change their position and asked Martin Searle Solicitors for help.
Cate Searle, Head of the Community Care Law team, wrote to the local authority pointing out their responsibilities to Mrs Hunt under the Care Act 2014. Cate challenged the conclusions of the care needs assessment and the Social Worker’s conclusion that Mrs Hunt’s needs could be met effectively and safely in the community. An independent social worker report was commissioned and found that Mrs Hunt’s care needs could not be met in the community. Statements from the manager of Mrs Hunt’s care home and her primary carers supported Cate’s assertion that Mrs Hunt should not and could not live independently in the community, even with regular care visits.
Cate also calculated that, due to the high level of care needed by Mrs Hunt, social services would save only £25 per week by forcing her to move out of the care home. However, the overall cost to the local authority would be higher in the community due to the payment of Housing Benefit and so on for the proposed sheltered flat.
After protracted correspondence the local authority recognised that it would be in no one’s interests for Mrs Hunt to move to the assessment flat or to a sheltered flat. They agreed that Mrs Hunt could remain living in her residential care home and that they would provide part funding for the care home placement.
Mrs Hunt and her family are relieved and delighted that her future is secure and that funding for her care in the home where she plans to see out her days is assured.