A report from Which?, the consumer organisation, highlights enormous difficulties and problems facing the estimated 500,000 or more older and disabled people, many of whom are faced with substandard home care services, according to the report.
The survey of over 900 cases found that in many instances basic care and support which is paid for by the individual service user, or funded through taxpayer’s subsidy via social services to the service user were simply not up to scratch in extremely basic ways.
These ranged from examples of help not being available at the right and agreed time (agreed through a care plan), or failure to attend at all, to cases where the standard of care delivered had no regard for the basic human rights and dignity of the individual.
Such surveys are becoming more common, as similar findings have been recently made into the standards of hospital care in a number of high-profile examples, and also into residential and nursing care homes.
It should be remembered that the delivery of care may be a private arrangement, or (as often) it may be provided via the duties of social services departments to “arrange the necessary care” for persons in need of that care who are eligible.
The care companies who provide this kind of support owe a clear duty of care to their users. However, people can be too frightened to challenge the poor delivery of care – feeling that they rely on the human contact and basic help – however poorly provided. In short, they do not wish to “bite the hand that feeds them”….sometimes literally!
Actions by aggrieved service users against care companies are on the increase.
Perhaps less well known is the fact, as stated above, that Social Services Departments have an overarching duty to arrange, monitor, review and assess needs in the context of the delivery of a person’s care.
It is not enough for a Public Authority to seek to discharge its legal duty by arranging for a private company to deliver care and to simply leave the individual to cope with problems arising from that care.
There may be legal challenges against the private company, but – equally – there may be challenges under Human Rights law when care is not adequately delivered and where no-one takes proper responsibility to see that it is delivered properly, whether that is homecare as in the “Which” report, or in care homes and hospitals.
Stephensons has a long history of expertise in the field of community care law and has experts in adult care provision, child care, and care funding matters.
Legal Aid may be available, or we have a competitive tariff of fixed fee options to assist people in legal matters in this field.
Our community care team is part of a larger public law and civil liberties unit and we have been involved in a number of important cases in this field.
In addition to legal challenges and claims against the providers of community care services, many people simply wish to lodge a formal complaint and receive an apology, an assurance that things will change and – in some cases – compensation.
We can assist in all aspects of complaints against public authorities and private companies and have a tariff of private fees, fixed fee packages and hourly rates to help achieve the right outcome.
By community care specialist, Pete Donohue