Our Public Law & Human Rights solicitors have resolved a dispute with a local authority to help Chris* get living arrangements suited to his complex care needs.
Chris is a young adult who was living in residential care. Chris has a diagnosis of autism and a learning disability. Our client, his mum, Rachel*, didn’t think the residential placement met his specific care needs.
Rachel felt that the environment was too restrictive as her son was left alone for long periods of time and couldn’t spend time outside. He was also having all of his family contact supervised and only had limited access to the community. Care staff used medication to help keep Chris calm.
In Rachel’s view, this restrictive approach to Chris’s care reduced his quality of life and also made him more anxious, which increased episodes of challenging behaviour.
As Chris’s behaviour became more challenging, this resulted in more restrictions. Rachel strongly felt that this approach was not in her son’s best interests. In her view, there was a lack of understanding about Chris’s needs and the reasons for his anxious behaviour. She felt he would be happier and more settled in his own home, where he would have more freedom.
The Original Dispute
Chris doesn’t have mental capacity to make decisions about his healthcare or living situation. Any decisions made for him must be in his best interests – especially if they involve depriving him of his liberty like this residential placement did. Rachel disagreed that the placement was in his best interests and she raised this with the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for Chris’ care.
Chris’s lack of mental capacity meant that the dispute went to the Court of Protection. Rachel contacted our public law team and Katy Clarke, a solicitor based in Manchester, took on the case.
For a long time, the local authority and the CCG argued that Chris’s current placement was his best option. They didn’t accept our position that he had to move.
Katy pushed for several reports and assessments to determine Chris’s care needs and to highlight how his current placement was inappropriate. She also drafted detailed witness statements to set out Rachel’s views about the problems with Chris’s current placement. The statements also detailed how the arrangements that were intended to keep Chris safe were actually making Chris’s anxiety worse.
After giving as much evidence as possible and representing Rachel at numerous meetings, the local authority and the CCG finally agreed that Chris had to move.
Choosing the Best Placement
The local authority then identified several alternative placements for Chris, including one that involved him living in his own bungalow with a dedicated support team. Eventually, all parties agreed that this proposal was in Chris’s best interests, and the local authority put forward two different options for a care package for Chris.
However, the CCG only approved funding for one of these proposals which Rachel didn’t think was suitable for Chris. The dispute continued.
Katy filed a statement which highlighted all the problems with the CCG’s preferred proposal, and why the alternative would meet Chris’s needs and was in Chris’s best interests.
The care provider changed their proposals accordingly and Katy also helped Rachel write her own submissions to the joint funding panel.
Our submissions and the revised care and support proposals convinced the funding panel to agree to fund Rachel’s preferred option.
At a further best interests meeting, the local authority and the CCG agreed that Rachel’s preferred care and support package was in Chris’s best interests.
Chris is now living in his own bungalow, with a dedicated care and support team. He has enjoyed playing football in his garden, going cycling, baking and spending time in his art room. Rachel and the rest of his family can see him more regularly and Chris has been happier and more content.
Rachel said “it has been a long and difficult time but seeing so many improvements to Chris’s quality of life already in just a few weeks has made it all worthwhile. Thank you for being a tower of strength and turning what seemed like mission impossible into a success.
I really hope Chris’s case helps inspire other families to understand what can be achieved through the Court of Protection. It was hard but it was the most rewarding and worthwhile thing I have ever done. I will be eternally grateful to you and your team for your support.”
“Best interests disputes are never easy and this case was particularly difficult”, said Katy, “But we’re thrilled to get a positive outcome for Chris and Rachel. Challenging the decisions of a local authority or a CCG may seem daunting, but we’d always urge you to get in touch if a loved one’s care situation isn’t right – we can help.”
Learn more about how we can help with mental capacity and best interests decisions
*Names have been changed
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