Care home costs fight successful
Published on 11 February 2014 02:00 PM
A theatre director is celebrating after winning a legal fight to have her 'home' disregarded in calculating her mother's ability to pay care home charges.
Glen Walford challenged Worcestershire County Council over its decision regarding Sunnydene, the house owned by her mother Mary in Stourport-on-Severn.
From 1983, when her father died, Miss Walford - who founded The London Bubble Theatre Company - had taken over maintenance of the house and, after her mother was admitted to a nursing home in November 2006 when she broke her hip, had spent £42,500 on its complete refurbishment
Miss Walford's case was the first time these legislative provisions had been considered by the courts.
Her solicitors told the council: 'Sunnydene is our client's home. She is a single lady with no partner or children. She uses all parts of the house and the vast majority of her personal belongings and chattels are situated there, including the bulk of her clothing, ornaments, furniture, books, videos, files, scripts, theatre work, 2 computers, her archives and posters.'
Miss Walford, who is in her 70s, lived in the house with her parents until she went to university and, although she had made many temporary homes in the UK and abroad because of her work, always regarded Sunnydene - which she was due to inherit - as her home.
She rented a small studio flat in London, where she was registered for council tax, and stayed with friends when she visited her mother because of the renovations - but had always intended to retire to Sunnydene.
In papers before London's High Court, she said: 'I dearly wish to be able to keep a much-loved house in the family for my own continued use.'
Mr Justice Supperstone said that 'home' in the regulations was to be read as 'only or main home', a place to which a person had a degree of attachment both physical and emotional.
The council's decision was based on an incorrect interpretation and application of the legal test as it appeared to have applied a test of actual occupation or permanent residence.
'Older people must be able to live the life they want'
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: 'We are delighted that Miss Walford has won in court today. Older people must be able to live the life they want and if that involves spending time away from their main home they should be entitled to do so without it being assumed that they are no longer resident.
'Having to leave or sell your family home can have a devastating effect on someone but every day families are facing agonising decisions about care for their loved ones and how it will paid for.
'Older people must be allowed to have peace of mind that they won't have to sell their homes to fund care. The judge described a home as a place to which a person has a degree of attachment both physical and emotional.
'Today's results will not stop everyone having to sell their homes to pay for care but might have a wider impact on how courts interpret the idea of a home, particularly when considering the right to respect for home life contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.
'The care system is in crisis and at the core of the problem is that funding for social care has failed and is still failing to keep up with ever increasing demand, putting the whole system on the verge of collapse.
'There is an urgent need for a frank and honest debate around the funding of care and who will have to pay for what. As part of that debate the Government also needs to give people a realistic idea of what they can expect to be paying for in the future.'
Copyright Press Association 2014