Community care law covers access to health and social services from the NHS or Local Authorities. They can also cover proceedings in the Court of Protection. Most community care cases are delicate in nature, as they often relate to an individual's care and wellbeing.
It is because of the sensitive nature of community care cases that it is important that legal advice is sought in the scenarios outlined in this guide, as individuals are often unaware of their rights.
Common Community Care Issues
The term 'community care' covers a broad range of subjects, which is why a diverse team of specialists are required to tackle the legal minefield surrounding community care issues. With decades of experience our team of specialists have helped clients seek justice on a range of sensitive topics.
Some of the more common community care issues that our team of community care experts have helped deal with are as follows:
- Social services or healthcare provider delaying or refusing assessments of need
- Inadequate assessments of need, resulting in a lack of access to required care and/or accommodation
- Disputes surrounding levels or type of service required for individuals
- Services incorrectly removed from an individual or a community
- Inappropriate, incorrect, or unfair charges for necessary services
- Refusals or delays to necessary adaptions to the home
- Disputes regarding self-directed support – namely refusal of, or insufficient provision of, direct payments or personal budgets
- The rejection of required care packages by panels
In each of these cases we have come across clients who were worried about funding and were unsure whether they could afford the legal advice that would help them negotiate a positive outcome for their situation.
In scenarios where clients are worried about funding, legal aid may be able to cover the cost of legal advice. Get in touch with one of our team if you would like to check whether you are eligible for public funding. If you are not eligible, we can advise you about our private funding arrangements, including fixed fees.
Another area of community care that could see fiscal arrangements made is continuing healthcare funding appeals, for which clients are often not financially eligible for legal aid. In scenarios such as these, we offer a no win, no fee service wherever possible.
In many of the common community care cases that we deal with there are time limits to claims, as such action must be taken extremely promptly. If a legal challenge to a community care issue is appropriate there is normally a three month deadline to lodge a complaint and begin appeal proceedings.
Many of the community care issues that are outlined above can require a formal complaint to be lodged before legal action can be taken, however any individual – or family – facing any community care issues is encouraged to seek legal advice before proceeding with any complaint, as the initial complaints process could be bypassed.
Adults With Disabilities And Their Carers
Our dedicated team of community care and healthcare solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with cases of adults with disabilities and have helped disabled adults – as well as their families and carers – gain access to the services they require.
The law gives specific rights to all disabled individuals who need care, as well as to those who are providing care.
We specialise in advising on whether local authorities and health services are meeting their legal obligations. If it is judged that they are not meeting their legal obligations, we can provide advice on the steps to reform their practices and ensure that individuals receive their rightful care.
We understand the physical and emotional difficulties that can arise for disabled individuals and their families when they do not receive the support they need; whether this support is designed to allow them to continue living at home, or it is based around moving into a care environment, we have helped countless of disabled adults tackle unlawful decisions.
Whether an individual suffers from a long-term disability, or has become disabled because of an accident or injury, we have achieved significant results in challenging fundamental failures in care provision.
While our team have been successful in a large number of Judicial Reviews and tribunal cases, we are sensitive to how stressful court proceedings can be. It is for this reason that we have a strong track record of being able to persuade local authorities and health services to provide the support that a disabled individual needs, without the necessity of a court case. By mediating discussions between individuals and authorities, we avoid the pressure of a court case and actively encourage a positive relationship between individuals and care professionals.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your local council, Care Commissioning Group or NHS Trust (England) or Local Health Board (Wales), whether that is because you do not have adequate support or you think that you are being charged too much, our team are on hand to hear your case. We can help ensure that you are getting the correct amount of direct payments, or that your Support Plan and Individual Budget meet your needs.
In some cases of adults with disabilities, their friends and family become their primary care givers –unfortunately, these carers are often overlooked by the law. We have a proven track record of giving support and advice to care givers and can help breakdown any legal jargon, highlighting to the families of disabled adults how they can retain their own sense of a personal life when caring for a loved one.
Care For The Elderly
We are proud of our commitment to ensuring that competent, effective, and easy-to-understand advice is given to elderly people and their carers.
So often the elderly are overlooked in our society; that is why we offer a range of legal advice for elderly clients facing community care issues and we always take robust action to ensure the elderly receive the access to services that they require.
Some of the scenarios that we have assisted with in the past include:
- Local authorities and the NHS failing to communicate and come together to create a coherent care plan
- Service providers recommending that to receive care individuals must leave their home and reside in a care home; this is usually against the will of the individual
- Elderly individuals not receiving the care they are entitled to
- Recuperating costs incorrectly charged to elderly individuals for care
- Standing up for the carers of the elderly, who can be overlooked by care providers
- Court of Protection
Our cases working with elderly clients highlight a distinct lack of communication and efficient care planning between local authorities and the NHS, with vulnerable patients often slipping through the cracks between these two services. In these instances we provide a voice to the vulnerable individuals that are being overlooked and passionately fight their case, ensuring that an amicable outcome is reached and our client is recognised by their local authority and the NHS.
Regardless of their age or care needs, everybody has a right to remain living in their home as long as feasibly possible.
One of our areas of expertise involves fighting for individuals to remain living in their home when local authorities are trying to move them out. In cases such as these our client's wellbeing is of the utmost importance and we will assess whether home care can be arranged to make living at home a viable option.
A large number of our elderly care cases have resulted in local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups delivering care that had previously been withheld. In many cases we have been able to ensure that the care to which individuals are entitled is being provided without having to involve the courts.
We are particularly successful in challenging decisions of local authorities to charge the elderly for their residential or home care services, as many people with health problems should not have to pay for their care.
Much like the elderly individuals they look after, carers can be marginalised by local authorities or care services. We have taken a number of cases where an elderly individual's primary care provider – which is usually their family – is not given the correct support framework to provide care for their loved one. In cases such as these, it is important that carers understand their rights and have access to the legal advice that will enable them to challenge the services that are prohibiting their ability to provide care.
We often find that the services that we are challenging (such as local authorities and the NHS) are thankful of our intervention on behalf of the vulnerable, as most incorrect care cases involve unintentional mistakes that would not have been highlighted without our involvement.
Some social and healthcare professionals find the law too complicated to navigate, so are happy to be involved in a mediation process with a reasonable team of solicitors that can explain matters of law simply to all sides involved in a dispute.
Armed Forces Personnel And Community Care Issues
Armed Forces personnel can face unique community care challenges based on the demands of their position. Issues for members of the Armed Forces range from complex school admissions processes to wider social care issues for veterans – however, with a dedicated community care team that are sensitive to the issues facing Armed Force personnel, you can rely on Simpson Millar to provide simple, impartial advice on any community care issue.
For many of the issues facing Armed Forces personnel it is advisable to contact HIVE, an information network available to all members of the Services community.
HIVE information centres can advise on a wealth of issues facing Armed Forces personnel, however expertise and experience on education and community care law is difficult to come by – it is for this reason that it is advisable to contact the team at Simpson Millar LLP, who will be able to provide tailored legal advice.
One of the main community care concerns that we hear from Armed Forces personnel relate to social care issues for veterans. Some veterans find that once they leave the Services, the facilities and support that they may have had whilst serving are incredibly difficult to find and arrange. Their family's needs may also increase after they leave the Forces – as they are often expected to provide additional emotional support to the veterans themselves.
Social care issues should be dealt with by local authorities, however they are often bogged down by a large amount of requests and a fast response to developing situations is often not forthcoming. We have helped many veterans, and their families, get expedited access to the facilities and support they require to settle back into civilian life.
As those in the Armed Forces can expect to move regularly they are more likely to need to apply for school places between the usual times of Reception and Year 7. The School Admissions Code says that admissions authorities, (the local authority in the case of Community schools and voluntary controlled schools, and the school itself in other types of school), must allocate a place in advance of arriving in the area when an application is made by a parent.
Unlike applications from civilians, an application for a school place from a member of the Armed Forces cannot be refused just because the family are not yet living in their future address. However, an official letter giving details of the move – including a relocation date, and either Unit postal address or quarters address – must be sent with the application.
A place can be refused if the year group in question is full, but you should be given the right to appeal against this decision and more information on this can be found on our admissions page.
In cases of school admissions for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), additional frameworks must be sought when a member of the Armed Forces is being relocated.
With EHC plans created by local authorities, issues can arise when moving between different authorities. In cases such as these it is important to allow as much planning time as possible, so that all parties can co-ordinate and ensure a seamless transition for the SEND child.
Our team offer tailored transitioning advice and can answer any questions you may have about moving from one local authority to another.
Community Care Case Studies
Mary lived in a nursing home. She had complex care needs caused by the effects of long-standing diabetes. She needed experienced nursing care and received NHS fully funded continuing healthcare payments to help pay for her nursing home place.
Her needs were re-assessed by her local Primary Care Trust (PCT), which decided she was no longer eligible for the NHS payments. We were consulted after the window of appeal had closed, however, we took our complaint higher and persuaded the strategic health authority to allow Mary to appeal the decision outside of the standard timeframe.
Simon lived in council accommodation and has mental health problems. He was failing to engage with social services and his housing provider sought to evict him.
We argued that social services needed to be doing more to try to engage him, using different methods to do so. This would enable them to follow a care plan. They refused, and court proceedings were issued, upon which the local authority agreed to change their approach, which was ultimately successful. Support was put into place and they are now working together with Simon to identify a new supported placement for him.
Contact us now to discuss how we can help you by completing our, no obligation, online enquiry form and we will call you back or you can call us directly on 0345 357 9850.