Short breaks care is often a vital support need for families with disabled children. Unfortunately some local councils do not always appreciate that they are under a legal obligation to provide such support where it is required.
The ‘Legal Entitlements Research Project’ at Cardiff Law School, which was established with funding support from Cerebra has published a Digest of Cases it has considered – and this includes advice concerning access to respite care. ‘Ron’s story’ (not his real name) is summarised below:
Ron is seven and has Global Development Delay (GDD), the symptoms of which have become increasingly difficult for his parents to manage as he has matured. The symptoms include difficulties with behaviour management and aggressive episodes which are having an adverse impact on his siblings and the wider family unit.
Ron’s social services’ assessment identified a need for him to be cared for whilst his parents had a break (i.e. a need for ‘respite care’). Ron’s parents asked for a Direct Payment to enable them to purchase this care themselves but this was refused by the council because Ron had not had a formal diagnosis of having a ‘disability’.
The legal opinion provided by the Legal Entitlements Research Project clarifies the duty on councils in such cases and in particular that in this case the requirement for a formal ‘diagnosis’ was not lawful; that parents in such cases have an enforceable legal right to a direct payment and that the council had failed to advise them (and their siblings) that they were also entitled to have their needs as ‘parent carers’ / ‘young carers’ assessed.
The full case Report is at www.law.cf.ac.uk/probono/Direct%20Payments.pdf
The Legal Entitlements Research Project
For information on how to access the Project, see:www.cerebra.org.uk/English/gethelp/legalhelp/probonoscheme/Pages/default.aspx
A copy of the full Digest (which includes Ron’s case) is at www.law.cf.ac.uk/probono/2013%20Digest%20of%20Cases.pdf