A Specialist Legal Service for Carers and those they care for

carers-legal-centre-logoCarers who look after elderly family members or for those who are frail, disabled or have learning difficulties face an enormous challenge to obtain the services they need from Social Services and the NHS.

The Carers Legal Centre has many years’ experience in this area of work.  We can help both carers and the person they care for in this complex area of the law.

Our staff are able to visit clients in the New Forest area, including Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Ringwood, Romsey, Winchester, Lymington and Southampton.

Contact the Carers Legal Centre

Email: carerslegalcentre@footner-ewing.co.uk

Out of hours contact number: 07879 477460

What we can do for you

The Carers Legal Centre is a department of Footner & Ewing and has specialist expertise in Community Care (ie Social Services Law), NHS Law, the law relating to mental capacity, Deprivation of Liberty challenges

Legal Advice

When you are faced with what seems like an impossible situation, sometimes all you need is an expert to guide you to a solution.

We will:

  1. Meet you at your home, in  hospital, or at our offices, or discuss your concerns over the telephone
  2. Review any documents you provide to us
  3. Analyse your problem
  4. Prepare an individually drafted advice letter with recommendations for further action
  5. Discuss our advice on the telephone.

We will do this for a fixed price, so that you will not have an open-ended commitment to pay legal fees

Funding The Cost of Care

Caring for elderly and disabled people is expensive.  There are several possible sources of funding.  Sometimes you may be able to obtain all the care, fully-funded by the NHS under Continuing Care.  Sometimes funds will be available from your local authority, but on a means-tested basis.  Some local authority services can be provided on a discretionary basis, and others are mandatory.  It may be possible to obtain funds against the value of your house through an equity release.

Where a person has gone into residential accommodation it is often assumed that his house will be sold to pay for the care.

We will guide you through the continuing care maze but also help you investigate other means of obtaining funding.

And perhaps help you keep the house.

Management of Affairs

If you are elderly or disabled and struggling to cope, it is ideal to have a caring adult son or daughter to look after your affairs.  For those who are not lucky enough to have a carer, The Carers Legal Centre can provide a good alternative.

We would appoint a personal legal visitor who has an understanding of the relevant law.  The legal visitor would meet you regularly at home to so that he or she would know what is required.

As part of this service, we can administer the person’s finances, ensuring that available state benefits are claimed, bills paid, and tax returns submitted.  When appropriate, we instruct outside agencies to assist, such as tradesmen, personal carers and social workers.  As the person’s care needs increase, we do everything possible to enable an elderly person to remain at home, but if a move into residential care becomes inevitable, we carefully choose the best available residential home and manage the sale of the house.

Carers who live far away from the person they care for

Carers sometimes live many miles away from the person they love and care for.  If you live in a different city to elderly parents you will be exhausted by the need to travel every weekend to assist your parents, who may often as much need reassurance as they do practical care. The situation can be even worse when the carer lives overseas and a time difference makes it hard to telephone at an appropriate time.   It may only be possible to visit on an occasional basis, but you need the reassurance that your loved one is being properly looked after.

The Carer’s Legal Centre can help ease your worries. We can take on all the responsibilities which would be carried out by you if only you lived locally, such as

  1. Arranging for carers,
  2. Arranging daily visits to a person in their home
  3. Arranging for home maintenance
  4. Managing finances
  5. Arranging equity release to fund care
  6. Arranging the sale of a house,
  7. Arranging for a move into a residential or nursing home
  8. Ensuring that a care home provides good quality care.

We can arrange to meet you on the day you arrive in this country, including at weekends, so that you can make the best use of your limited time.

Deprivation Of Liberty

Sometimes elderly people who have lost mental capacity are required to move into Residential Homes in their own best interests.  But mistakes are sometimes made, and it is believed that many people are kept in residential homes against their wishes and without sufficient justification.  Since April 2009 Local Authorities have had a duty to ensure that Deprivations of Liberty are justified.  The process is imperfect and The Carers’ Legal Centre  can act for you to challenge unlawful Deprivations Of Liberty.

Our successes

Management of affairs:
Client speedily discharged from hospital and £68,000 stolen property recovered.

Active management of an elderly person’s affairs is a challenge.  Care agencies, medical staff and social workers have to be organised and monitored to ensure they act in a way which clients find acceptable.  Clients’ wishes must be recorded in case they lose mental capacity.  At the same time, interventions must be as discrete as possible, so that clients do not come to feel that they have lost any self-respect.

The two Smith brothers are elderly bachelors who live together in Bournemouth.  They are wealthy, with combined assets in excess of £1.5 million.  They are intensely private men who do not wish to have their affairs dominated by their several sisters.  They therefore appointed the Carers Legal Centre to manage their affairs so that if they lost mental capacity or just felt too frail we were able to fight their battles for them.

During the course of the three years that we have looked after their affairs they have declined in health both physically and mentally.  They are now unable to weigh up the pros and cons of any significant decision, nor to manage the details of their finances. We have tried to allow them as much independence as possible so that they do not feel that they are constrained.

During the winter of 2014 to 2015 one of the brothers had a fall and broke his hip.  He had to be admitted to hospital.  His brother left alone at home was unable to cope emotionally on his own.  We therefore became involved and worked with Bournemouth Social Services and arranged for carers to go into their house.  Initially they were very reluctant to accept an intrusion but gradually they have come to enjoy the carers’ visits.  They understand that carers are necessary to enable them to remain in their own home.

Mr Smith was in hospital for six weeks over the Christmas period.  When he was physically fit for discharge adult services were very reluctant to let him go home because he could not look after himself.  We therefore used the authority given by the Lasting Powers of Attorney to force the hospital to discharge him back home as quickly as possible.  This ensured that both brothers’ emotional needs were given a higher priority than would have been given by Social Services, who were primarily concerned with avoiding risks.   At the same time we arranged for care visits to their house.

We routinely check their bank statements. In February we discovered that large cheques had been signed by one of the brothers in favour of an unknown individual.  Mr Smith has no recollection of signing such large cheques.  This appears to have been done by a rogue trader who visited the house and persuaded Mr Smith to sign some cheques.  We informed the police, who were unable to identify the culprit.  But we also persuaded Mr Smiths’ Bank to reimburse the full amount fraudulently extracted from their bank account.  Had we not been involved the brothers would have permanently lost a very substantial sum of money.

The Smith brothers made a wise decision to ask the Carers Legal Centre to act for them to manage their affairs under a Power of Attorney – and those who will one day inherit from their estate will also benefit because a major fraud was uncovered and rectified.

Correct Care Regime Achieved for a Disabled Client

One Tuesday we received a telephone conversation from Mrs H.  Her husband had suffered Parkinson’s disease for many years and was gradually deteriorating.  He recently had a spell in hospital after a fall.  He was discharged home with a care package, which consisted of four visits per day.  Because his wife had taken over the family building firm and was out at work all day, he was left alone most of the time.  He was a proud man who did not appreciate that it was unsafe for him to get out of his chair.  One afternoon he got out of his chair, tried to walk to the toilet, fell over and broke his thigh.  He was alone on the floor for some five hours before his wife came home and found him.

He was readmitted to hospital and received treatment for his broken leg.  After 10 days, his wife was told that he was fit for discharge.  Social Services intended to discharge him home into exactly the same circumstances as had proved so disastrous a few weeks earlier.  We intervened with an urgent letter to the local County Council, threatening to seek an injunction if they permitted Mr H to be discharged home without a suitable care package.  The County Council understood our concerns, but the hospital were upset that the family should have intervened and they illegally tried to stop his discharge.

We submitted a strongly-worded complaint to the hospital, threatening a referral to the Health Service Ombudsman.  Within 24 hours the hospital and the local County Council had arranged a placement for Mr H in a step-down facility, where he could recover from his broken leg and prepare either to return home (if that ever becomes possible) or to transfer to a suitable nursing home.

Without our intervention Mr H would have been discharged home and probably suffered another accident which might have led to his early death.

£90,000 obtained from a Primary Care Trust

In January 2011 the Carers Legal Centre were approached by the daughter of a lady who suffered severe Parkinson’s disease.  She lived in a nursing home in Bournemouth.  She was virtually unable to speak and was immobile.   Despite the severity of her condition this lady had been denied NHS Continuing HealthCare funding.  Her assets were being used at the rate of about £700 per week to fund her care.

Her family had made several applications for funding to Bournemouth and Poole Primary Care Trust.  The applications had been refused on spurious grounds.   Appeals had also been rejected.

We reviewed the voluminous paperwork and established that the Primary Care Trust had made a number of fundamental legal errors.  Our direct application to the Primary Care Trust was brushed aside.  An appeal to the Southwest Strategic Health Authority was rejected on the grounds that the Primary Care Trust should have dealt with these issues.  It became necessary to apply to the Health Service Ombudsman, who was able to order the PCT to review the application.  Continuing Health Care funding was awarded, together with accrued interest.  A total sum of £90,000 was recovered.

The primary difficulty faced by people applying for Continuing HealthCare Funding is not the demanding clinical criteria which must be satisfied.  The difficulty is the obstructive behaviour of Primary Care Trusts, who make the application process so difficult that many applicants give up the struggle rather than obtain the funding which they deserve.

Following this case, letters sent by the Carers’ Legal Centre to Bournemouth and Poole Primary Care Trust are likely to obtain results.

Hospital under threat of closure

In 2009/10 we acted for the relatives of the patients in a long stay psychiatric hospital on the south coast that was threatened with closure.

Challenging an NHS decision requires a particular legal approach.  It is rarely possible to argue that closure is simply unlawful.  If you challenge the closure on the grounds that the relevant NHS Foundation Trust is not following the correct public consultation procedures then the best you are likely to achieve is a delay while the correct bureaucratic procedures are followed.

We used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a lot of detail on the obligations of the NHS Trust concerned, and then carefully analysed that information and found out that if the closure went ahead the NHS Trust would be in breach of a particular statutory obligation.  This fact had been overlooked by all parties.

We then asked the local MP to place a question with the Health Minister responsible – and soon afterwards the proposed closure was abandoned!

The total legal costs involved for the family members involved were less than £1,000 – far less than the  normal legal response of taking the NHS to court, which would have led to legal costs of at least £15,000.

Reduce stress

The law concerning carers is a complex interplay between Social Services and Health Service Law.  It is best to know your legal position, even if it is not favourable!

Mental Capacity

Medical and care staff often pressure carers, stating that the person they care for has lost mental capacity, even when they are able to show close family that they remain able to speak for themselves.  We can ensure that the legal tests for mental capacity are rigorously and correctly applied.

Cost of Care Services

Where there is a good prospect of obtaining NHS funded care, we can make sure your case is well prepared.  But we can also make sure that even where NHS treatment is not available, you have access to all available local authority funding, some of which is discretionary.

Fixed Fee Legal Advice

  • Fixed charges for Legal advice to include a face-to-face meeting and production of a letter of advice setting out how the law applies to the client and suggesting remedies: £250.00 plus VAT

For more information please call 01794 512345

All our prices are quoted on the basis that you will visit us at our offices.  We would be pleased to visit you at your home or in hospital, but we will have to make an additional charge based on the distance travelled.