Setback for providers looking to promote independent living

A learning difficulties charity last week lost an appeal to
overturn the Commission for Social Care Inspection’s refusal to let
it deregister 11 of its residential homes.

In a case that will have implications for care homes across the
country, Alternative Futures hoped that the properties would no
longer have to be registered as care homes because it had granted
assured tenancies to its service users.

But the CSCI was concerned that due to their disabilities the
residents may not have had legal “capacity” to enter into the
tenancies. It was also anxious that the granting of tenancies may
not have led to changes in the services being provided to allow
residents to live more independently and may have been carried out
to enable housing and other benefits to be obtained. Care home
residents are not eligible for such benefits.

Although the tenancies were “in standard form” the judge said
that there were matters suggesting that they were not standard
leases, such as the rent exceeding £700 a week and the tenants
receiving care.

Mark Harris, acting managing director of Alternative Futures,
said that the ruling was a “blow” to the proper implementation of
Valuing People and undermined the choice and rights agenda outlined
in the adult green paper. He called on the CSCI to issue guidance
on what constitutes a tenancy and the required criteria for care
home deregistration.

Valuing People director Rob Greig said that service users had to
be adequately consulted over proposals to move from residential
care to independent living. “We have got to make absolutely certain
that the consultation process that goes alongside that is done in a
way that really enables people to work through the issues and
express their views,” he said.

Greig added that the Mental Capacity Act provided a good
framework for how to gather the views of people with high support
David Congdon, head of external relations at learning difficulties
charity Mencap, said that in order for a service to qualify as
supported living it had to be something significantly different to
residential care and not just the same service with a new

A spokesperson for the CSCI said the inspectorate welcomed the
appeal’s dismissal. The existence of tenancies between people who
used the services and a provider did not automatically mean that a
care home did not exist, she added.

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