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By Debbie le Quesne

Another judicial review success

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 Devon County Council was found to have failed to properly consider how to help vulnerable elderly residents with dementia and physical disabilities when calculating costs, The Telegraph reported yesterday.

A High Court judgment has found the council did not have “due regard” for the different needs of those being cared for, in breach of equalities legislation.

Have we heard this before? I think so, or at least something similar.

And as a result, care fees were set too low and homes were left at risk of closing down, it was claimed.

I find it hard to believe that after all the private sector success in securing judicial reviews in this matter, we are again trading the same path.

The complainant, South West Care Homes, argued the council had “failed to comply with its duty” to eliminate discrimination under the Equality Act and is now claiming “total victory” on behalf of residents.

And I can understand the home owners’ legal submission, as indeed all our members will

The company had applied for a judicial review after the council set care home fees in April 2012, arguing “some of the homes will no longer be financially viable resulting in unplanned closures and deteriorating conditions and quality of care”.

A judgment has now found the local authority’s approach had failed to have “due regard, in substance or with rigour or with an open mind, to the need to eliminate discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity amongst elderly or disabled residents”.

Judge Milwyn Jarman QC, said the council had “failed to ask itself what it could do” in respect of their differing needs.

“Furthermore, there was no proper consideration in my judgment of the staff costs of engaging and interacting with those residents suffering from dementia,” he added.

Alan Beale, managing director of South West Care Homes, said he was pleased with the outcome. I bet he was.

It is worrying though, that it appears local authorities are failing to conduct themselves lawfully in these matters.

I left puzzled how councils, with such robust legal departments, cannot get it right.

Mr Beal was reported as saying: “We brought this action reluctantly, because we were extremely concerned for the welfare and safety of the vulnerable people in care homes in Devon.”

Interestingly, two other complaints, that the council did not consult properly and used flawed methods in calculating fees, were not upheld.

A spokesman for the council was quoted as saying the authority had “undertaken to conduct a more detailed equalities assessment, and take any specific findings into account”.

No doubt the council is left red-faced, but the reality check will be seen if the fees rise. We’re waiting and watching with interest.

Have a great weekend.

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Written by debbielq

November 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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