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Fees - is this even legal?

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Poppyfields, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. Poppyfields

    Poppyfields Registered User

    Sep 12, 2013
    70
    In a recent meeting between us/social services and the care home we were suddenly told that my grandmother has a debt of almost £10,000, dating back to late 2013, shortly before she first went into the care home.

    The only reason that SS are involved are because we were forced to contact them after the care home gave my gran 28 days notice to leave.
    This notice was given after we again requested to see care plans and other documentation such as accident reports/body maps etc.
    These requests have been steadily ignored for more than a year and recently every time we again ask, another notice of 28 days is given by the manager.

    In 2013 it was social services (different department to the one that's involved now for some reason) who decided that she lacked capacity and needed to go into full time residential care.
    This was not what my mother and I felt was best and we'd asked that before such a drastic step was taken (which was completely against my gran's wishes) efforts should be made to properly implement a reliable and more frequent better care package so that she could remain in her sheltered accommodation flat.
    Our comments were ignored.

    We have emails from the social worker announcing that "funding is in place" several weeks before my gran went into the "care" home

    At no point since then (until more than 18 months later in June of this year), have we ever been informed of any top fees or "gaps" in the funding.

    No letters/paperwork exist. None of us (or my grandmother who has Alzheimer's) have ever signed anything.
    After being informed of this debt, my mother contacted the council, to be told that they don't have any information and the file is "missing"
    Apparently the financial advocate (whose continued involvement we are opposing as she is both incompetent and dishonest) has apparently taken the file.
    She refuses to give us any information.

    She has closed my gran's account (which cost £30 as she chose the most expensive way to do it) and transferred everything - presumable to her business account.

    She did this despite us requesting that an investigation take place as to why we've never been told anything about this and also to see evidence of this debt in the form of monthly invoices etc.
    She has also paid the care home - who she says have been "extremely" patient regarding this debt.
    So patient that they have never mentioned it to any of us over a period of more than 18 months!
    The owner (who also is in charge of Accounts) wrote a letter of apology to us several months ago.
    I would have thought that would have been the ideal time to subtly remind us of this apparent debt - but nothing.

    The financial advocate herself did nothing about this debt for over 3 months after she obtained the court order - despite having obtained my gran's account details weeks before the order was granted.

    As the bulk of this debt accrued before she even obtained a court order, I cannot understand why the care home do not have to explain why they have never mentioned anything to us - despite regular conversation about my gran's expenses and writing cheques for new spectacles etc.

    Has anyone had a similar experience? Private message welcome.

    Many thanks in advance
     
  2. Essie

    Essie Registered User

    Feb 11, 2015
    566
    Hello Poppyfields, goodness what a mess! I'm afraid I really have no useful knowledge to help you but I wanted to bump your post back up in the hope that someone cleverer than me will see it and post more practically.

    My opinion, for what it's worth is to stand firm - we did have a sort of similar situation a few years ago now when a relative was self funding in a care home and then dropped below the level for self funding so payment switched to the LA - some 12 months after he had moved to a different home the first one wrote to us and asked for £3500 'arrears' - we asked for a full breakdown and after several exchanges it was clear to us from the dates and figures that the home had simply failed to get the money from the LA and so, presumably, had eventually decided to ask us instead - we stuck to our guns that the funding from the date show had been agreed by all parties as coming from LA and that their case was with with them not us - thankfully the letters then stopped - no idea whether they ever got the money they claim was owed from the LA.

    As far as I can see any debt is not yours to pay - if there is anything to pay it would be from your Gran's assets so if all else fails - and you are 'happy' that the money must be paid I would simply redirect them to this financial advocate to sort it out - is she a family member or a professional person? If she's a professional I cannot see the legality of transferring Gran's money into an a/c in her name not even a business one.

    To be honest given all the 'issues' involved - missing files and questionable practices in terms of money and the responses of the care home re continually giving your Gran notice to quit I would request a meeting with the most senior SS person you can access and seek their advice and support - eg. would they meet with the care home manager and yourselves or the FA and yourselves? Age UK or your local AS will be able to point you in the direction of legal support - simply saying that you are referring the matter to your solicitor may well be an end of it if they simply are trying it on but legal advice may be a good thing given the number of factors involved.

    And lastly, having got it all sorted out maybe a transfer to a different home would be a good thing - one that gives you all the information you request without it being an issue, likewise getting Gran's finances sorted out and properly administered with someone you can trust in charge - as I say there are just so many issues here.

    I wish you good luck and hope you get some more replies asap.
     
  3. Poppyfields

    Poppyfields Registered User

    Sep 12, 2013
    70
    Hello Essie

    Mess is the understatement of the year I'm afraid

    Financial advocate has paid the bill - with my gran's money

    She is refusing to provide any proof of invoices from the care home over the last 20 months

    I should add that this Advocate only became involved after my mother was told that my sister had obtained an LPA and a financial mandate concerning my gran's finances.
    Guess who told my mother this? The manager of the care home and social services respectively.

    My mum was naturally worried - my sister and she were involved in a legal dispute that resulted in my mother no longer having a house in the UK and having to live in her house in rural Spain, sounds idyllic but trust me, it's not.

    So naturally my mother voiced her concerns over the POSSIBILITY of financial abuse - as my sister wasn't communicating with either of us, we had little alternative.

    Guess what? This information was completely untrue and the care home (although not SS) have since apologised in writing for their "mistake" - one of many.

    Now a year on, my sister is communicating once more and has confirmed that she was asked to cooperate with SS and did so fully and that they were satisfied that there was no abuse
    - yet even knowing this, they went on to involve a financial advocate, despite my gran telling everyone (including the advocate) that she didn't want anyone other than her family involved.

    Reading some peoples experiences on here, it truly frightens me to think the way in which social services can swoop in and take over.

    It's just a shame that they aren't so gung ho when it comes to vulnerable children - of course dealing with a angry and possibly violent parent is no doubt more trouble than dealing with an elderly lady whose daughter (my mum) delayed getting an LPA/POA because the thought of doing so was "unpleasant"

    I urge any child/partner of someone who is still considered to have capacity to make decisions to get a POA sorted - it will save you heartache and worry and the State will not be able to take control of a vulnerable person's life and then proceed to ignore worrying signs of neglect/lack of care they receive from a care home.
     
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    I'm a bit confused about the term you use: "financial advocate". While I'm aware of certain things financial advocates do, you also mention a court order which make me wonder if this person is actually (or also) a Deputy.
     
  5. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    If this "financial advocate" is a Deputy appointed by the court, then I can't see that they had any choice other than to pay any bills that they found to be valid. Also, it's quite possible they are not permitted to provide you with the details of those bills. Do bear in mind that if appointed by the court they will be expected to present accounts to the court as there is quite a lot of oversight.

    As far as I can see your only option is to talk to a solicitor. I'm not sure it will get you very far, but at least they will be able to tell you one way or the other. A word of advice though: I wouldn't go around accusing this "advocate" of dishonesty, at least on the facts of what you have written here. It won't help and it puts you in an invidious position to say the least.
     
  6. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    514
    I wonder if there was some misunderstanding about what the emails said when you were told that funding was in place. If your grandmother had £10K available to her which has been used to pay the care home bill, it sounds as if she is over the threshold for self-funding, so the fees may been building up ever since she went into the home until there was someone appointed who could pay the bill.
     
  7. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    That's what it sounds like to me as well.
     
  8. Poppyfields

    Poppyfields Registered User

    Sep 12, 2013
    70
    #8 Poppyfields, Aug 26, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
    Thanks for your replies

    Yes the financial advocate is a Deputy - who has lied and made several errors

    My point is that this deputy has only been involved for a few months - this debt supposedly started to accrue in late 2013, many months before the Deputy was even involved.
    During this time we were all in regular and amicable contact with the care home.
    After June 2014 it became less amicable, due to the state we found my gran in - but contact continued - yet still no mention of any debt

    The court order was granted only in early March 2015, yet still the deputy did nothing for over 18 weeks after that time.
    She then said how "extremely patient" the care home had been regarding this supposed debt

    The care home/social services could have contacted us at any point to inform us of monies owing

    There were several meetings (care home/social services/us) that took place before my gran went into this care home and no mention of any top ups that my nan would have to pay.
     

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