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Age UK intervene in landmark care case

Published on 04 April 2011 10:30 AM

Age UK intervene in landmark care case at the Supreme Court

A former prima-ballerina is fighting for her dignity and independence after a London authority has reduced the social care support she receives.

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has withdrawn the night time assistance that had been received by Ms McDonald to go to the toilet and instead provided incontinence pads, despite the fact she is not incontinent.

Age UK has taken the decision to intervene in the case to be heard by the Supreme Court believing that the decision breaches her human rights and could have extremely adverse and devastating consequences for many thousands of older people if other councils take similar decisions to save money.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, says:

'We are horrified at the prospect of any older person having their support for something as necessary as going to the toilet taken away. At Age UK we believe that older people have a fundamental right to dignity and there is no dignity in forcing someone to sleep in their own urine and faeces for up to 12 hours at a time.

'The current financial pressure on local authorities is just not a good enough excuse for failing to respect the basic rights and entitlements of older people who need care and support. Local authorities cannot be allowed to reduce care to the bare minimum level needed to remain safe - care also needs to enable people to live with dignity. It's heartbreaking to think how any person must feel left in this situation and shameful that older people can be treated in such a way in the 21st century in what is regarded as civilised society'.

Alex Rook of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, instructed by Age UK in this case, stated:

'The submissions Age UK have made to the Supreme Court in this case will, we hope, ensure that all Local Authorities follow the correct assessment procedures, which ensure that a person's individual needs are taken into account, and that the rights of all older people to a private and family life in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are not breached. Age UK strongly believes that in this case the assessment - which Ms McDonald was not even aware of - fails to respect any of these rights.

'Whilst Age UK is acutely aware of the current difficult economic climate, the right balance must be struck between the rights of the individual and the interests of the community. Age UK finds it difficult to understand how it can be in accordance with the Human Rights Act that the indignity of an older person such as Ms McDonald lying in her urine and faeces all night can be justified by what would be a relatively modest saving.'

The case of Ms McDonald against the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea will be held in the Supreme Court on 4th and 5th April.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

  1. Ms McDonald is a 67 year old lady, an accomplished ballerina, who suffered a stroke in 1999. The stroke left Ms McDonald with restricted mobility so that help is needed when transferring on and off the toilet. It also left Ms McDonald with a neurogenic bladder which means she has to urinate on average three times a night.
  2. Ms McDonald has had two serious falls while attempting to get on the commode on her own one resulting in a broken hip and a prolonged hospital stay where she contracted both CDiff and MRSA. She is medically unable to fit incontinence pads herself.
  3. Ms McDonald likes to be as independent as possible used to enjoy her evenings and finds it hard to be forced to go to bed at 8.30 every evening.

Age UK

For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over five million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

Media contact: Liz Fairweather
Tel: 020 8765 7581
Out-of-office-hours: 07071 243243

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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