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|08 Sep 2015|
Supreme Court overturns key Court of Appeal decision on ordinary residence
The Supreme Court has rejected a Court of Appeal ruling on who has financial responsibility for the care of an adult with physical and learning disabilities, instead ruling that the local authority initially responsible for meeting his needs as a child should be responsible for his care after the age of 18.
The ruling was made despite the subject, PH, having been placed in foster care outside the authority’s area from the age of five, having lived out-county all of his adult life and his natural parents having also moved away from the local authority area of his birth.
PH has physical and learning disabilities and there is no dispute that he is entitled to receive care costing around £80,000 per annum. He was born in Wiltshire in 1986, but was placed by Wiltshire County Council with foster parents in the South Gloucestershire Council area from 1991. Since he was 17, PH has lived in two care homes in Somerset. His natural parents moved to Cornwall from Wiltshire after his foster placement was made and PH regularly visited them there for holidays.
The dispute over who should pay for his care was initially referred by the councils concerned – Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Gloucestershire - to the Health Secretary to determine “the proper approach to the determination of a person's 'ordinary residence' within the meaning, and for the purposes, of Part III of the National Assistance Act 1948, where that person lacks capacity to decide where to live.”
Following reports in England that the NHS is to stop 'over-medicating' people with learning disabilities, questions are being raised if the same thing is happening in Scotland.
NHS England has pledged to take urgent action after reports highlighted that as many as 1 in 6 people are being ‘over-medicated’ by healthcare professionals, and that up to 35,000 adults with a learning disability are being prescribed an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or both without appropriate clinical justification. That would imply that possibly about 3,000 people with learning disabilities might be affected if a similar system was in place here.
But so far we cannot find out because proper records of the same sort that exist in England do not yet exist in Scotland.
Record numbers of people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions are being helped into work by the Access to Work scheme.
New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show more than 2,000 people with a learning disability were helped by the initiative in the year to 31 March 2015 with more new awards than ever before. The number of people with mental health conditions using the scheme – which includes the recently-established Mental Health Support Service in Access to Work – has continued to rise and now stands at more than 1,600.
Users can receive help with travel to work as well as access to support workers and specialist adaptations to help overcome the challenges they face in the workplace. Their employers will receive financial support with the extra costs associated with employing a disabled person beyond reasonable adjustments expected under the law.
Access to Work is a demand led scheme, and the increase in users with a learning disability or mental health condition comes as the overall number of disabled people using the scheme to find or stay in work reaches a 5-year high. In 2014/15 growth continued for the third consecutive year with an additional 1,200 more people supported, taking the total to 36,760.
Since April 2007, Access to Work has helped nearly 124,000 disabled people into employment. Changes to the scheme announced in March this year introduced personal budgets for those who want them as well as enhancing support for disabled people who wish to start their own businesses.
The Scottish Government has published its priorities for the next couple of years in the Keys to Life. They say that they can't do everything so best to focus on 4 things that they can do really well.
This document outlines the implementation framework for delivering The Keys to Life ~ Scotland’s Learning Disability Strategy. It sets out our vision, expected outcomes and highlights key themes to focus delivery during 2015/17.
This approach has been welcomed by lots of important groups but some others have said to us that it misses out important priorities about having enough money to live on and getting the right support. The Scottish Government says it reflects the key messages they have had from people with learning disabilities, particularly the 14 members of the expert group of people who have learning disabilities about what is most important to them in implementing The Keys to Life recommendations.
The goal that the Scottish Government have picked to start with are:
First is a having A Healthy Life.
Lots of things make us healthy. Eating good food, taking exercise, having a good place to stay and friends and family all help us to be healthy.
Three things that they will do to help with this are
Man with Asperger's 'punished for being disabled' after council charges £1,000 for support service. Steven Oliver uses an outreach service that helped him secure a part time job - but he says the charge means there would be little point in working.
An article in the Daily Mirror shows the increasing concern about rising care charges.
A man says he is "being punished for being disabled" after a council gave him with a £1,049 invoice for the support that allows him to work.
Steven Oliver, 40, who has Asperger Syndrome, had been receiving vital Self-Directed Support (SDS) through an outreach service provided by Autism Initiatives Scotland (AIS). This support has enabled him to work in a part-time job, for five hours a week over the last year. But Steven was told in November last year that Scottish Borders Council would be asking those using the service to pay a contribution to the cost and in May he received an invoice for £1,049.
Steven, who makes £144 a month in his job, said it will take seven to eight months for him to pay the bill off. It means there is little point in Steven working, as he only works a few hours a week. But he has vowed to continue working as it "is a job". Steven, from Duns, Berwickshire, said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked when I received the invoice. It took me completely by shock.
"When the financial assessment was carried out last year, I, along with many other users of SDS were led to believe the contribution would be a modest one. While I understand that savings have to be made, the council's attitude - which appears to be one of 'not our problem' - is disgraceful. Part of having Asperger's, it's like autism, is the intense anxiety of situations like this, so you can imagine how receiving such an invoice made me feel. The fortnightly meetings with my social worker are designed to combat that. She's really helped me, with practical and emotional help, things I couldn't do on my own."