Q: My widowed mum has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. I am her only family and live too far away to help care for her, but thankfully she has a large network of friends locally who are a great support. She has lived in the village all her life but there are no elderly care facilities and Mum is worried the local authority will force her to go into care home too far away for her friends to visit. Could they really do that?
A: Whilst social services have a duty of care to ensure your mum is looked after if she cannot look after herself, the only time they could force her to go into a care home would be if her care needs could not be met in her own home. With a good network of friends and access to professional visiting or live-in care, most people’s needs can be met in their own home.
When the time comes, social services should visit your mum and provide an assessment of her needs. If you or your mum make it clear that she wishes to remain in her own home, they should provide a care package to accommodate those wishes unless there is a medical or psychological reason why that would not be in her best interests. Local authorities are legally obliged to follow guidance that allows an elderly person to have a genuine choice about where they live. In the case of mental incapacity this situation requires the local authority to have made a mental capacity assessment.
Whilst your mum still has capacity, she should make a Lasting Power of Attorney for her health and welfare as well as for her financial affairs. She can also give explicit guidelines to her solicitor regarding her care wishes. If you are her Attorney and things do not go according to her wishes, you can challenge any local authority decisions on her behalf.
This question has been answered by Shane Maddocks, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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