Mr A’s family placed him into a care home in 2005 after his needs became too much for his family to manage. At this time Mr A had to pay for his own care costs, which were over £660 per week. It was not until 2006 that Mr A’s son, Mr M, learned – almost by accident – that Social Services should be helping with the costs of care.
Mr M experienced some difficulty in dealing with the Social Services’ department – calls were not returned, information was not logged, etc. It was not until May 2007 that Social Services carried out a financial assessment and began making payments.
Social Services did not explain to Mr A or his family how the payments would work, when they would be made, or who they would be made to. Mr A and his family had mistakenly – but understandably – believed that Social Services would pay the family, and that they would use this money to pay the care home. Mr A therefore continued paying over £660 per week to the care home in expectation that he would receive money from Social Services at some point.
In 2009, Mr A died and in 2011 his son, Mr M, was shocked to learn that Social Services were suing him for his late father’s income contribution – some £7,000. Social Services claimed that Mr M had acted fraudulently. Mr A mistakenly believed that Social Services owed his late father’s estate money because he had not seen any contribution towards the care fees, and he issued a Counterclaim against the local authority valued at tens of thousands of pounds.
In the course of advising Mr M, it soon became apparent that his late father had paid more money to the care home than he needed to – he had paid the care home the full fees despite Social Services and the Primary Care Trust making contributions.
Mr M contacted our community care law solicitors in Gatwick & Crawley. We advised Mr M about the law on paying for care, about the Council’s claim, and about how his Counterclaim was weak. This allowed Mr M to understand the law, to be aware of the various risks and costs involved, and to understand his options. We agreed with Mr M what outcome he wanted, which was to deal with the Council’s claim, avoid having to pay any money to the Council, and recover any money that was due to his late father.
Matthew Grant represented Mr M at a mediation meeting with Social Services and obtained a successful outcome. Social Services and Mr M agreed to abandon their respective claims against each other.
We investigated exactly what money the care home had received so that we could calculate the amount by which Mr A had overpaid the care home; this amounted to some £10,000 plus interest. We advised Mr M about the various ways in which he could recover this money and protect his position.
We helped Mr M to recover this money from the care home on behalf of his late father’s estate. We prepared a letter for Mr M to send to the care home and this resulted in the care home agreeing to repay the money straight away. Mr M is donating the money to charity on behalf of his late father’s estate.
With our assistance, Social Services’ claim went away very quickly – this meant that Mr M no longer needed to face Court proceedings and was no longer under a threat of having to pay the Council nearly £7,000. More than this, Mr M was able to recover £10,000 from the care home in overpaid fees. We allowed Mr M to achieve a quick and cost-efficient outcome. Mr M said “I think that we have a result all round thanks to Matthew and Cate. Our family can’t thank you enough.”
This case study shows how complicated care home funding cases can be, and why seeking specialist advice about paying for care is important. The community care law team at Martin Searle Solicitors are experts in care home funding cases and can offer specialist legal support.