When a person requiring care moves into a care home, the contract for the provision of care is usually directly with the home. However, if the person receives care at home with financial assistance from the local authority, then arrangements are often not so straight forward.
The contribution by the local authority will often by governed by an agreement which stipulates how the money can be used. Additionally, a separate agreement is normally required with a care provider.
My colleagues and I were recently instructed by a client whose husband received care at home but, due to his ill health, was urgently admitted to hospital full time.
Under the terms of the contract with the service provider, 30 days' notice was required to terminate the agreement. Otherwise, a penalty was payable.
Because of the husband's sudden admission, it was not possible to give that notice, and the service provider charged the client a penalty which was paid out of the financial contribution. The local authority sought to recover this money, arguing that the arrangement with them did not cover payment of a penalty.
We were able to successfully argue that the local authority failed to specify that a termination penalty would not be paid by them under the agreement. Accordingly, the local authority apologised to the client and withdrew the claim.
Cases like this demonstrate the importance of scrutinising contracts carefully.