Margaret* was separated from her husband John* for four years after her local authority decided she needed 24-hour care in a nursing home. We helped Margaret and John reunite and Margaret was allowed to move back home after we challenged the local authority’s decision.
What happened to Margaret?
In 2019, healthcare specialists recommended that Margaret should spend a few weeks living in a care home after several falls. The aim of her time in a care home was to improve her mobility. It also helped John as he was struggling to lift and move her.
Margaret was making good progress, but it was mutually agreed by her and John that she should initially extend the stay. After a short period of time, she continued to make good progress to improve her mobility, and they started making plans for Margaret to return home.
Unfortunately, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had reached the UK and strict restrictions were put in place. She was advised to stay in the care home in case she had another fall.
As the situation with COVID-19 continued to be unclear, her stay was extended with no set end date.
In 2023, Margaret was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Social workers and a psychiatrist felt that, because of her dementia, she couldn’t understand and retain information. This meant she did not have the capacity to make decisions about where she lived.
The local authority therefore decided she needed 24-hour care from nursing staff and Margaret was told she’d have to stay at the care home. She was no longer able to leave without someone there to supervise her. Margaret continued to ask if she could return home to John.
How did this affect Margaret?
Being separated from her husband of over 50 years and having her independence taken away from her significantly impacted Margaret’s mental health and well-being. She became sad and was constantly asking to be allowed to return home.
How did we help?
Margaret and John came to our Public Law and Human Rights team with the support of an independent advocate, to see if they could help Margaret to return home. Katy Clarke, an associate solicitor, worked with Margaret and John to explore the options for Margaret’s care.
With a hearing date set, Katy began investigating Margaret’s case and got evidence from the local authority. After reviewing the evidence, Katy believed the local authority had overestimated her needs and she didn’t need 24-hour daily care.
We challenged the assessment by the local authority and asked for a re-assessment to be done. Katy also asked for a new support plan, setting out in detail what care Margaret would need if she returned home. This was important as it could show that a return to home should be looked at as a serious option.
After another assessment was completed, the local authority accepted Margaret could do a trial period at home. She would still need a visit from carers three times a day to assist with care, but she would be back with John.
Unfortunately, Margaret’s health took a turn for the worse, and she was admitted to hospital with a severe urine infection. Her mobility deteriorated again, and she became more confused. Margaret and John worried that this would affect her moving back home, as her care needs may have increased.
Thankfully, after a period in hospital and rehabilitation, her mobility improved again. The local authority agreed to continue with the trial period with Margaret returning home.
The court agreed that the new plan would be best for Margaret. All parties agreed it was in Margaret’s best interests to return home to John.
After four years apart, the couple are back living together. Margaret is happy to be home and her care continues to go well.
On Margaret’s case, Katy said: “Margaret is a strong and determined lady who values her independence. Unfortunately, circumstances out of her hands extended her stay in the care home, and she suffered from being away from home and away from her husband.
“It was clear the local authority had overestimated her care needs, which led to her being forced to stay at the care home. It was vital to get another assessment done, and a proper plan for her care if she did return home.
“To see the progress she has made, and how happy Margaret and John are now they are back together, is brilliant to see.”
*Not real name used.
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