Helping Sarah

Proposed change of accommodation for Sarah following social care review.

What was the person’s situation before working with Advocacy Focus?

Before Advocacy Focus became involved with Sarah, she had been in the same care home for 25 years. Most of the other residents had been there in the home with her for the same length of time. Sarah was due a social care assessment review, having not had one for some years.

After the social worker’s first visit, social care felt the home did not meet Sarah’s needs and shared their intentions to move Sarah into supported living.

Sarah could not communicate verbally and had limited ability to fully understand language other than a small repertoire of phrases she recognised, such as “dinner time now.”

Sarah was blind and so unable to use images or writing to communicate. Sarah was unable to read through braille or use sign language to communicate due to her learning disability.

What did you do to help the person?

Although Sarah was blind, she knew routes around the care home well and enjoyed moving around from room to room independently as and when she wanted to. The advocate felt that any proposed change of accommodation could be an unnecessary breach of Article 8 of the Humans Rights Act – which includes, right to respect for your home.

“The right to respect for your home is a right to enjoy your existing home peacefully. This means that public authorities should not stop you entering or living in your home without very good reason…. This applies whether or not you own your home.” 

The Advocate observed that the other residents included Sarah – by sitting next to her and reporting how their day had been, chatting to her in a friendly voice, and letting Sarah know when dinner is ready and by holding Sarah’s hand to dance. Sarah clearly enjoyed these interactions, hearing their voices and smiling and waving to express her enjoyment. The Advocate also observed that although Sarah had a room where she could spend time should she wish to, she chose to be around the other residents in the main lounge a lot of the time.

Having lived with these other residents for 25 years, evidence suggested they held meaning for Sarah and were a valued part of her life. It appeared that to her, they were like her family.

Although article 8 of the Human rights act, when defining who can be regarded as, “Family” is  quite specific, the Advocate put forward the argument to the local authority that as Sarah appeared to regard and treat her co-residents like family, it seemed only reasonable/fair to afford her some consideration of the rights available to those in a position of being under threat of having to move away from their family (even if the co-residents did not meet the formal definition of family.)  Sarah did not respond well to new people, whereas she responded in a happy and relaxed manner to the people she had known for a long time, suggesting that it was not just “general company” she enjoyed, but that it mattered to her it was these specific co-residents.

The Advocate asked the social worker for a copy of Sarah’s assessment. On reading it, the Advocate informed the social worker that she felt that she had collected substantial evidence of Sarah’s needs and likely wishes that were not yet represented in the assessment. These were provided to the social worker.  

The evidence included how Sarah interacted with the other residents, how she appeared to be very attached to the house itself (as her home) and highlighting her rights under ARTICLE 8 and how she chose to be alongside the residents rather than in her room alone.

It was also pointed out that there was a significant body of evidence from observation and from the care records that Sarah became very distressed by new people / new situations. These facts were then presented alongside the relevant wellbeing principles of the care act and Article 8 of the human rights act. (Right to respect for home in particular.)

The Advocate asked the local authority to explore possible ways in which Sarah’s needs could be met within the home. This would mean increasing Sarah’s one to one time.

The Outcome

The social worker agreed to add the Advocate’s evidence to Sarah’s assessment and after consideration of points put forwards by advocacy, it was acknowledged that a change of accommodation was not the least restrictive option, and plans were made for Sarah to stay where she was.

The approach used was one of collecting clear, objective evidence (through observation, reading care notes and speaking to several different members of staff) linking each piece of evidence to the relevant section of the Care Act or other relevant rights-based information,  including article 8 rights under the Human Rights Act – right to respect for home.)

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