EASS gains a positive care funding outcome
Human Rights and Care Funding Decisions – EASS helps gain a positive outcome
The Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS) was contacted by an individual who was facing the prospect of being placed in residential care after a funding decision by their local authority.
The individual is disabled and needs 24 hour care yet leads a full and active life. Regular contact with family and the wider community play a significant part in her identity. Despite needing care arrangements, the individual was involved in community life and enjoyed many varied interests which gave her a strong sense of identity and independence. This is extremely important to the individual – especially as she is still young and active.
Funding for care was provided through the Independent Living Fund which has since closed. Funding decisions are now made by the Social Services Department within the Local Authority. Now with the responsibility for care funding, Social Services reviewed the individuals care arrangements and made a decision that no further funding was available for the 24 hour care.
A decision was made was to place the individual in a care home.
The impact was shattering. Not only would regular contact with family be lost but also her life within the community and her life activities would be seriously diminished – if not removed completely.
Sensing that immediate action had to be taken, the individual contacted the EASS for initial advice. The call came through to Ann, one of the team of specially trained advisers at EASS. Ann identified that there were possibly important interactions with the Human Rights Act. Due to the massively detrimental impact on the individual’s life, Ann wanted to give the right advice so a decision was made to talk the issue through with one of our partners.
EASS has a wide and comprehensive partner network where we can draw from expertise in all areas of equality and human rights. Through the partner network, EASS has an immediate route to information and support from some of the UK’s experts in discrimination issues. For this issue, we contacted our lead partner Disability Rights UK to obtain their expert viewpoint.
Disability Rights UK studied the case notes provided by Ann and concluded that this issue is going to interact heavily with the Human Rights Act. They made some valuable suggestions that Article 8 – the Rights to Private and Family Life, Home and Correspondence – was very relevant and that the decision to place the caller in a care home based on funding concerns, needed to be proportionally considered alongside the impact on her active life and relationship with family.
Disability Rights UK shared their knowledge regarding the closure of the Independent Living Fund and suggested that firstly, a query should be made whether the Local Authority as ‘ring-fenced’ the funding as they are able to do so. If not, the decision to place her in a care home should be challenged by using Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
Ann returned to the caller with this information and, empowered by the advice and support, the individual put this argument to the Local Authority.
What happened next showed that used in the right circumstances and correctly, Human Rights can lead to positive outcomes. By demonstrating the impact of the decision on her life and using the right language around Article 8, the Local Authority could see that a decision based purely on funding capacity could indeed interfere with the caller’s right to her private and family life. They thought more about the decision and concluded that it was not proportionate to place this active disabled individual in a care home. Funding would therefore be made available to continue the current care package which was vital to continuing the full and active life and strong family relationships.
This is a wonderful outcome from what could have been a desperate situation for a disabled individual. The guidance and advice provided by EASS combined with the support and expertise of our partner, Disability Rights UK has given an individual a voice. A voice that has been used effectively and listened to protect the way she enjoys life.
About the Equality Advisory & Support Service
The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) is a government funded helpline that has replaced the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Helpline. The Helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales. It can also accept referrals from organisations which, due to capacity or funding issues, are unable to provide face to face advice to local users of their services.