Important survey – identifying the worst Care Act practices, for CASC-AIDr, the new advice charity launching in 2017

There’s a separate post on this site, about my latest cunning plan to preserve some notion of law mattering in adult social care – a post about a new charity, which I am launching in early 2017.

It going to be called CASC-AIDr from now on – the Centre for Adult Social Care Advice, Information and Dispute resolution.

And that is just what it is going to provide, and some of it for free, for those who need it the most.

I intend to focus its work on stopping the 5 most obviously unlawful things going on in Adult Social Care during this dreadful period of disrespect for legal principles and duties – while councils everywhere are budget obsessed, despite their applying regardless of lack of money (clue as to the solution for the disbelieving: look in Reserves, for funding statutory duties: it’s illegal not to consider reserves, as the West Berks case proved earlier this year!!)

So here’s a short survey which I have put together – it should take about 10 minutes, unless you find it so entertaining and instructive en route that you just have to slow down and take a few deep breaths.

Survey to identify what people think are the worst practices that need legal scrutiny

There’s a call for help at the end, and I’d be delighted to hear from people, separately, or from within that survey, on [email protected], if you think you’d like to be involved in any of the following ways:

Volunteering to get someone’s problem out of them, or to support them to get it, down onto a contact form, so that it’s in a shaken down state which can be analysed – over the phone or by email?

Selling the charity your advice, if you are Care Act confident and competent, and happy to do it for a self-employed reasonable flat rate?

Liaising informally (paid as self-employed, or unpaid) between the person with a problem, and a barrister or solicitor where the law is not so clear?

Admin, Fund-Raising, Marketing or specialist services such as managing a WordPress website for the charity (paid as self-employed, or unpaid)

My hope is that even fed-up social work staff will be able to refer their disgruntled customers to this service, which will cheer a lot of them up, I am thinking! Seriously, we all need social work staff to know that know they are struggling, and that we need them to continue to be true professionals in a very difficult period.

I am assuming that anyone who has ever had advice from me, will happily make a small donation, and I can’t wait to get started!

If you are an advocacy organisation, please get in touch, to collaborate, even though the charity won’t be providing free advice to everyone!

And if you are a provider, seeing your own organisation going down the plughole because of local authority cuts to care packages, this charity is the way ahead for you – you can refer clients without fear of embarrassment – but providers everywhere will need to make a donation, if it is ever going to work!

Belinda Schwehr

About Belinda Schwehr

Belinda has been a lawyer (both a barrister and then a solicitor advocate), a law lecturer at a university, and a trainer and consultant specialising in Adults' Social Care legal framework issues. She first became interested in social care law when the Gloucestershire case was running between 1995 and 1997, never having met a real live social worker, before that point! She regards social care as the most interesting field of law she has ever been associated with, combining aspects of public law, the regulation of power, economics, management skills, EU law, procurement, criminal law, incapacity law, land law and contract, and doesn't expect ever to tire of the stuff. If the Care Act is going to be the last word on it, however, she would like to think it was worth all that sitting there and getting fatter whilst thinking about how it should all hang together! She does glass craftwork and house renovations for a hobby, has one son in his twenties, and about 5000 online friends... soon to be 50,000, with any luck!

4 thoughts on “

Important survey – identifying the worst Care Act practices, for CASC-AIDr, the new advice charity launching in 2017

  1. Dotty

    In spite of the fact that I am classed as a vulnerable adult – autism and neurodegenerative disorders among others, the local authority have repeatedly refused to provide me with an advocate for assessments in spite of me asking for one and the LGO directing that they should. ON one occasion when I asked for one as the social worker intended undertaking an assessment, I was still waiting for one when the SW apparently assessed me when I wasn’t present and without my knowledge and then justified it when my DP’s went down ( this after a nine hour operation when I was totally helpless) by stating that one of the officers of the council had misapplied unit costs. The SW then told the LGO investigator, a year later, an entirely different tale, stating that she’d decided to do the assessment because I had said that post operatively that an assessment would lead to delays – my DP’s I’d been assessed as needing seven months earlier were still not in place. On each occasion in spite of increasing need and disability, my DP’s have been reduced. and my Disability Related Expenses have never been considered.
    Oh! and any services I was entitled to before my nine hour operation were withdrawn the day before my operation. I was informed of this by letter so I did not know about this, as the letter came after I entered hospital, and therefore I could not do anything about it.
    I came home with four layers of internal stitching the whole length of my abdominal muscles, external stitching from hip to hip, compression of the lungs and biilateral pneumonia. I have MS, angieodema -(epipens) cerebral palsy, a nearly full thickness tendon tear in my dominant arm, an inability to regulate my body temperature. No care, no services, lying social workers.. Can’t even get a solicitor to represent me since the LA apparently don’t have any money so no-one wants to challenge them..
    I only had physical health problems before I came into contact with the LA, I now have mental health problems, no kitchen I can access – apparently I need to be in a wheelchair before they’ll even consider it, no proper heating – the LGO is currently looking at the 3 year delay in implementing a proper heating system. etc etc.

    1. Belinda SchwehrBelinda Schwehr Post Author

      All these woes are potentially instances of illegality, unfairness, breach of human rights and what’s called irrationality, in public law.
      They could all have been the subject of legal challenge, and whilst I agree that one can struggle to find a legal aid solicitor practising in this field, it is possible to qualify for legal aid for judicial review, on the basis of low means and strong merits, still, with a strong case. The reason that there are not many solicitors with capacity to take this sort of thing on is not that local authorities are not worth challenging, with all due respect – this kind of law does not lead to DAMAGES/COMPENSATION – but to a court order to the council to do its job lawfully, second time around – but because law firms have to carry the risk of not getting paid for the first stage of their work if PERMISSION to proceed to a full hearing is not given by the Court as a first hurdle. That involves financial risk for solicitors, and that is I have set up CASCAIDr, a charity that offers to do the first bit – the analysis – for free, in certain circumstances, sometimes using a barrister, and beyond that, using crowd funding to ensure that this structural failing in the system does not deter people who might not qualify for legal aid because of 2nd home ownership or a partner’s means, etc. Most of its work is chargeable, £125 an hour, including complaining about things that have long gone by. Inappropriate cuts in services with lack of an advocate where one is triggered are potentially free work, and delay in doing something about them is not necessarily fatal when illness and recuperation are an obvious factor.

      Rather than assume one needs a lawyer at all, or the charity, I have to say that what you have set out above could also be written up by yourself as a referral to the Monitoring Officer. That officer has an independent, non-delegable statutory duty to manage governance within the council, and must therefore do something about anything that is obviously unlawful. Here is a link to a post on the subject:Post on use of the Monitoring Officer

      and here is the address of the charity, if you want to refer your matter for consideration as to what basis we might be able to help you upon.

  2. K

    Our local authority has a policy that there is a fixed upper limit on the cost of certain items such as electronic items Eg laptops which are bought using direct payments.

    I believe this is a fetter of discretion since its a blanket policy which applies to all service users before they’ve even had a chance to discuss the options and then decide on the most suitable option which then determines the cost.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Belinda SchwehrBelinda Schwehr Post Author

      My thoughts are that a council can lawfully take its resources into account and limit the quality or sophistication of the GOODS it will fund. Councils have discretion regarding the appropriateness of a direct payment as a MEANS to meet needs in the first place. But even if they are happy to offer the cash, in that form, instead of services, they need not fund a direct payment to an unlimited level. They have an almost unfettered discretion to put conditions on the taking of a direct payment. First of all they have to determine a lawful personal budget, which is defined as the cost to them of meeting the need. Then they have to consider whether a direct payment route to obtaining that response will cost a human being more or less than it would cost the council. With objects, goods, hardware, etc, a council can often get things for less than individuals can. With other services, individuals can sometimes get input for less than a council can – eg by being a direct employer, for instance. I think that a council can legitimately say that a bog standard laptop will meet the person’s needs that were assessed as eligible social care needs, in the first place, not a posh one. If the council were putting a limit on anyone’s overall budget before considering their individual needs, that would be potentially unlawful – but it is common for councils to offer flat rates for this or that type of input, and that is not something that is unlawful unless one is a special case.

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