How a Community Care lawyer in Brighton challenged a local authority to secure increased social services’ funding for a care at home package.
Mrs Wilson, aged 82, has lived at home in the Midlands for over 50 years. Her husband died 15 years ago. She has dementia. She was self-funding her live-in care at home from income and from savings, although these have now dropped to £12,000.
Mrs Wilson’s live-in care costs £710 per week. Her sons asked Social Services for a care needs and financial assessment when Mrs Wilson had £19,000 in savings left. The social worker concluded that Mrs Wilson had a need for residential care and a preference to stay at home. They said that they would fund her care at home up to the amount that they would pay for a care home: £490 per week.
Mrs Wilson & her family did not agree that she should give up her home to go to a care home. The sons feel that it is vital to Mrs Wilson’s well-being that she can retain independent living in the community and they fear that she would just “give up and die” if made to move to a care home. Mrs Wilson was also very unhappy with the Council’s decision. Her sons tried to get Social Services to change their position but were told to pay the top-up themselves to keep her at home.
Mrs Wilson’s sons approached Cate Searle for help to keep their mother at home.
Cate asked the Council for copies of Mrs Wilson’s Care and Support assessments and found that the assessments were contradictory and did not recognise the full extent of Mrs Wilson’s need for support. The assessments included statements such as “Mrs Wilson suffers from macular degeneration and glaucoma so that any change of environment will be more threatening for her” and the social worker noted that she was “very vocal about wish to remain at home”.
One assessment included the comment that Mrs Wilson “definitely needs a carer around 24 hours a day…allowing her to live life as independently within the constraints of lack of capacity…and that she benefits from having one carer and becomes agitated and confused with lots of carers”. She also had a very low tolerance for noise and found it difficult to be in a space with more than two or three other people.
Cate used these assessments to make the case to the Local Authority that Mrs Wilson had a need not a preference to remain in her own home and that her health and well-being would suffer should she be forced to move into a care home.
The Local Authority did not agree that Mrs Wilson has a need to live in her own home and to be cared for by a live-in carer. However, they agreed that they had previously under-assessed her needs. Whilst they were not willing to fund the whole £710 per week cost of the live-in carer, the local authority agreed to increase their weekly contribution by £146 per week to £636 per week.
Mrs Wilson’s sons were satisfied with this compromise and agreed to contribute £37 each a week to make up the difference between the local authority funding and the true cost of Mrs Wilson’s care at home.
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