Hospital Evicting The Elderly

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There has been a lot of coverage in the press today about a policy said to have been put in place by Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital Trust.

It is reported that the Trust will be seeking to issue court proceedings for "eviction" against elderly tenants who are seen as "bed blocking" i.e. those who are in hospital despite the fact that they are physically well enough to return home.

Eviction

It is not quite clear what the factual position is in relation to these articles or the new policy, or what Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital Trust is planning when it says that it will "evict" those patients. Whatever is intended, you need to know what rights you, if you are the patient, or your family member who is a patient, has in these circumstances.

First, when a person is admitted to hospital there is a detailed discharge planning process that the hospital has to follow, to ensure that their needs are met when they are discharged.

Secondly, where a patient has nowhere to go, because perhaps, as some of today's articles suggest, they cannot safely live at home for some reason, and they are in need of "care and attention" that is not otherwise available to them, within the meaning of the National Assistance Act 1948, then social services have a duty to assist them by providing alternative accommodation.

Thirdly, if the patient is not in need of care and attention, as referred to above, then they may be homeless within the meaning of the Housing Act 1996, Part 7, and the local council may have duties to accommodate them.

Adaptions Needed To Home

Whatever happens, there seems little reason to put an elderly person, who has presumably recently recovered from some physical illness and may be vulnerable not only from age but other circumstances, through "eviction" action, whatever that may mean, when the hospital should instead be working with the local council to make sure that the patient’s needs are met, so that they can be appropriately housed.

It’s important to also be aware that in circumstances where a patient can’t return home because adaptations are needed to their home, the local council can also, if the patient’s needs require, make a referral to the local housing authority for a grant to assist in any costs for adaptations to the elderly person’s home, so that they can, in due course, move home.

Finally, if the patient doesn’t have capacity, within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act, to make decisions about what care they should receive or where they should live, even if just for an interim period, and there is any dispute about where they should live, that dispute may need to be resolved by the Court of Protection if it can’t be resolved in another way.


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