Charging for a Financial Contribution Towards Your care: October 2017
On 1st April 2017, Reading Borough Council published a new policy about how they will now manage charging people who receive a social care package for a contribution towards the cost of their care. Within a short space of time we were contacted by more than a dozen of our service users to say that they had received letters telling them that they would in future have to pay quite large sums of money towards the cost of their care.
Our Family Support Team has supported these service users and carers to challenge each of these decisions so that all those who have contacted us have had their charges reconsidered and considerably reduced.
One of the main issues that affects how much someone could pay is around claiming for the person’s disability-related expenses, which should be disregarded before deciding how much to charge. So for instance:
• having to wash bedding or clothes more often with consequent higher energy costs
• higher heating bills
• special dietary requirements
• special clothing
• help with domestic tasks such as cleaning, shopping cooking, basic gardening
• specialist disability-related or other equipment
• Privately purchased care such as for respite.
This is a very short list of examples, but there are many more items to be considered which a carer may not immediately think is relevant.
We also believe that the letters the Council is sending out and the way they are asking people to claim their disability related expenses is insufficiently easy to access to the point where their system is not compliant with the 2016 Accessible Information Standard.
We are actively following up on these issues and we had our first face-to-face meeting in September with Jo Hawthorne, Head of Wellbeing, Commissioning and Improvement, in whose area the administration of the new policy rests, and we have a follow-up meeting on Tuesday 7th November, when we will further update this news item.
At our meeting with Jo in September we raised the many issues around the implementation of the policy that don’t work for adults with LD living alone or with their parents, and also the fact that the law allows the Council to use discretion about many aspects of charging for care, but which it is choosing not to exercise.
Jo Hawthorn seems very determined to talk about what can be done to make the process of claiming Disability Related Expenses easier and to give more help to parent carers who are struggling with the process. However, we are very concerned about the families who don’t know about our Family Support Service and how we can help them. We are now hearing worrying stories about the fall-out effect of this policy and urge anyone who is experiencing charges that they cannot afford to get in touch with us urgently.
If you are reading this and you are in this situation please get in touch, if only for a telephone chat to help you understand how you can reduce the charge. Our Family Support Team is there to help any family who need information and advice on 0118 9662528 Monday to Friday 9.30 to 1.30 (answerphone at all other times).
Royal Mencap has also written to the Director of Adult Social Care, Seona Douglas, asking for information about how the consultation on the new policy was carried out and the assessment of the impact it would have on people with LD and their carers. There has been no reply to date.
We also wrote to Rachel Eden the lead Councillor for Adult Social Care on 20th September asking for a meeting but have not yet received a reply.