With the implementation of the 2nd phase of the Care Act, the cap on care fees being delayed until 2020, individuals and families will continue to be responsible for their care costs unless or until they become eligible for help with either the Local Authority or the NHS.

It is a long established fact that individuals and families who privately fund their care placement subsidise Local Authority and NHS placements. Both the Local Authority and NHS contract with providers at significantly reduced rates. Placing a loved one into any care setting requires not only considerable emotional preparation and planning but suffice to say, finance to fund the placement. Why then should a patient in the room next to your loved one be paying less for the same services? Is it that public bodies receive the benefit of bulk purchasing or simply that they do not have the funds to pay?

Faced with a scenario we would all rather put on the back burner, many families wait until the inevitable becomes evitable at which point their choices are limited. Crisis occurs and families are the faced with either a placement being made which is the result of the only bed being available at that time or in a care setting which falls far short of expectations and exceeds the availability of funding.

So why is it individuals and families leave such major decisions until they are at crisis point? Why do we as a society not plan ahead or at least have a provisional idea of how we would like to be cared for and in which setting that would be most suitable? Perhaps we can pacify ourselves with the “not knowing” what sort of care we may need and therefore we will wait until the time comes and will deal with it then. It is certainly one way of looking at things but surely it is better to have a provisional plan in place rather than leaving it to chance.

At Paladin Advocates we are approached and requested to support and advise families at every stage of the journey. Just like those of us with children may look ahead to choose schools of our preference, why do people fail to forward plan for their care provision? We are of course here to guide, support and advise at the juncture the requirement for care becomes apparent. However, for us we see the information, which should be made so readily available by health professionals and social services counterparts, is often sadly lacking and at worst, non-existent. Families over and above the financial threshold are told to fund their own placements and quite openly discriminated against simply because they have funds. Of course what this does do is afford choice of care setting whether that is to remain in the home or go into a residential setting but principally we at Paladin Advocates so often see that families are not aware of what choices are available. Did you know if you are privately funding a placement you can continue to receive your Attendance Allowance in your own home? Did you know you are entitled to receive a Local Authority assessment as a right under the Care Act 2014? Did you know if you suffer with a medical condition for which you require care and treatment that you may be entitled to request consideration for assessment for Continuing Healthcare eligibility? Did you know that if you are awarded Continuing Healthcare funding as a result of identifying a ‘Primary Health Need ‘ this is not means tested and the entirety of your care fees are paid for by the NHS? Indeed why would you know any of these things unless you have been through the system before or you know someone who has.

As is so frequently the situation, individuals and families are faced with such life changing circumstances at a time they are notably both physically and emotionally challenged. How many people have appointed someone to act on their behalf in the event they are unable to make decisions? A stroke otherwise medically referred to as a CVE (cerebral vascular event) means you may have lost your ability to communicate your wishes let alone exercise your choices. At Paladin Advocates we urge one and all to get a Lasting Power of Attorney for both Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Affairs. Do it today, either via a legal channel or via the Government website. Our sister company, Paladin Law (www.paladinlaw.co.uk) specialises in the creation and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney. We cannot stress enough how critical it is you appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. In the event you have not appointed an Attorney to make decisions about your health and welfare then the Local Authority or NHS CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) will make decisions on your behalf. Will they know you intimately to know what you really would like or accept? No, but they will make what are known as ‘best interest ‘ decisions on your behalf and there is nothing anyone can do to trump those decisions.

So choices but not knowing your options? You will need specialist advice from professionals who have the expertise and knowledge. But actually it is not only having the expertise, it is about being able to know someone will represent your interests in the way you would wish. You require a service that will fight for the best for you. A service that will think laterally about your individual circumstances, explore every option and then deliver in a compassionate and personal manner. We at Paladin Advocates have over 30 years’ experience working both within the NHS as qualified clinicians and outside as qualified lawyers. Not only that but our Managing Director, Anne Reed, has walked the path with her own dear mum and felt the anguish, challenges and desperate days of not knowing how to fulfill her mother’s wishes and promises to end her days in her own home.

It may be the Care Act 2014 will actually support individuals and families in their rights to receive a service which is truly tailored to meet their needs. The Act certainly goes beyond previous legislation and bestows duties and power upon Local Authorities that they “must” meet the needs and principally “welfare” of not only the individual but also the wide support for that individual, notably their carers and family. Carers are now entitled to assessments in their own right.

Will these criteria which are now laid down in statute be applied? Will the right of the individual to be considered for Continuing Healthcare eligibility be assessed? We at Paladin Advocates ensure your rights are protected and you receive what you would wish for. We become your voice and we act as advocates to support you and your loved ones. It can be contentious and it can be frightening but we are both experienced and tenacious – we fight for you as if you were our own. We are unique but we believe you and your loved ones are too. We have a track record of securing funding through the NHS. We seek to support you in securing the placement and package of care you wish for and which best meets your needs. There is no place like home and wherever possible we achieve such placements. In our next article we will share our stories of success achieving what for many may seem impossible – we believe everything is possible. it is just we may need to think laterally and be persistent in our approach. It is your life and you only pass this way once – make sure you receive the care you deserve.

Please visit our website at www.paladinadvocates.com or contact our offices on 01822 610303 and speak with Anne Reed.

Author: Anne Reed.