Landmark case could mean free home care for dementia sufferers

Dementia sufferers could receive free NHS care at home after a
landmark ruling by the health service ombudsman, it has emerged,
writes Natasha Salari.

The test case involved Azheimer’s sufferer Malcolm Pointon, who
is severely disabled and unable to do anything for himself.

His wife, Barbara, cares for him in their home in Royston,
Hertfordshire, but the disease means that he needs a high-level of
health care. She has spent four years battling with the health
authorities for free NHS care at home.

Pointon made an official complaint, backed up by opinion from
experts, but the primary care trust said that although he qualified
for 100 per cent free NHS care, he could only have that care in a
hospital or nursing home. The ombudsman upheld the complaint in
November last year, and he is now receiving 100 per cent NHS funded
care at home at £1,000 a week paid for by South Cambridgeshire
primary care trust.

Last February, Ann Abraham upheld complaints from relatives
about four older people who were incorrectly made to pay for their
own long-term care in nursing homes. The ombudsman went on to
receive a record number of complaints against health authorities
that had refused to fund continuing care in nursing homes.

But the new ruling could potentially affect thousands of people
with dementia who receive care in their own homes.

Pointon complained that the assessments were biased towards
physical needs and took no account of psychological needs such as
her husband’s “unpredictability, delusions, lack of
spatial awareness, communication difficulties and

According to Pointon, the ombudsman’s report, which has
not yet been published, concludes that her husband was assessed
against the wrong criteria, with assessments concentrating solely
on physical needs. She also said that the report
“slams” requirements which make it impossible to
receive NHS-funded care in the patient’s own home.

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