Daughter fears her veteran father, 98, with dementia will not survive being forced to switch care homes in Northampton

A 98-year-old war veteran with dementia is being forced to leave the Northampton care home he has self-funded for years, which his daughter fears will kill him.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 8:14 am
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 9:32 am
Albert 'Ted' Collins next to the memorial in Church Bampton, where his name appears on the roll of honour for his service in WW2

Albert 'Ted' Collins will have to leave Richmond Village care home because Northamptonshire County Council refuses to top up his pension to cover the monthly costs.

The great-grandfather will have to move into a cheaper establishment, which his daughter Jo Leckie believes would be traumatic and confusing for him.

"They're supposed to take personal circumstances and wishes and the family's wishes into account but they just think about Northamptonshire County Council's budget," she said.

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Ted Collins and his daughter Jo Leckie in 2017

"They're making decisions about people's lives and his end-of-life care based on their budget and not on him as an individual."

Mr Collins' successful career as a merchant banker in London meant he could afford to fund his stay at the Grange Park care home when he moved in three years ago.

But his savings are dwindling to the point where he soon will not be able to cover the costs, all while Mrs Leckie, who is organising his affairs, lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Adult social services will give him some money but still not enough to afford Richmond Village, so they want to move the former Sergeant in the RAF somewhere more affordable.

Ted Collins as a young man before the war

Mrs Leckie, 55, is in the process of appealing the decision, but was shocked to find out from another care home that they had been asked to assess her father for a transfer when she landed back in Australia.

"It's really horrible for me as I feel totally out of control of the situation and feel like I'm going to get a call saying, 'he's been moved', and there's nothing we can do to stop it from happening," she said.

Mr Collins suffered a health scare last year due to a heart condition but has since improved, which his family attributes to the care at Richmond Village.

He does not need nursing care - if he did then the NHS would fund his stay, as they would if he had a health condition, but dementia does not count according to Mrs Leckie.

Ted Collins last year

She is not happy with the alternative care homes that have been suggested for her father to go to and believes his care and health would suffer as a result.

The family is also concerned about the impact of 'transfer trauma' which can be especially damaging to people with dementia as they can struggle to rebuild relationships and trust when moved.

Mrs Leckie said: "I'm not precious, I work in social housing, so it's not that I don't want him to go into a council care home at all, I just don't think he should be moved at 98."

Mr Collins grew up in Church Bampton and fought in World War Two with the RAF, he was stationed in Singapore when the Japanese army invaded and his plane was shot down trying to escape.

That caused the loss of most of his hearing, and was registered as 'missing in action' for months as he trekked through the Burmese jungle to safety in India.

After the war, he moved to London to work in the city, before coming back to Northampton where he met Mrs Leckie's mother and moving again to Essex.

After a short stint at Essex County Council, Mr Collins retired and returned to Northampton again - he has been living in a care home for the past four years.

Mrs Leckie moved to Melbourne for her husband's work three years ago, around the same time her dad moved into Richmond Village.

She has been returning to the UK regularly to visit her father but the financial and physical toll is starting to have an impact - she has had to quit her job to allow for all of the travelling.

Her wrangle with the council has left her feeling concerned about how the social care system treats elderly people with budgets seeming more important than their wellbeing, but she is determined to fight it.

"He's never claimed a thing in his life, he was a very proud man - he would have been mortified at what I'm doing but he doesn't understand as he's got dementia.

"But I've got to do what I'm doing as it's the best for him and that's what he would do for me."

A spokesperson from Northamptonshire County Council said: “We confirm that there is an active complaint regarding this issue currently being investigated. We do acknowledge that this is a difficult situation and are committed to working with the family to ensure that Mr Collins’ eligible care and support needs are and will continue to be met in an environment that is suitable and proportionate.

“But sadly this is a situation that we are increasingly faced with. The choice a family makes about residential or nursing care will be based on many things and is often based on a preferred location and affordability at the time their loved ones are placed.

“When a family or resident, who is funding their own care, choses a residential or nursing home they normally make the arrangements directly with that home and the cost of the placement is decided by the home working with the family. This cost is not regulated or agreed by social care.

“However people are living far longer and with more complex conditions now and inevitably this means that meeting the meeting the ongoing cost of this care soon depletes funds and can leave families stuck with wanting to keep their loved one in the same place and avoid the upset of disruption but without the funds to do so.

“Once the cost of care becomes the duty of the council we have to look at both the persons need and the cost of care as we have to ensure that we are getting value for money, so we can ensure our limited resources can meet the needs of all our customers.

“On that basis the council has an “expected to pay rate” that acts as a guide on what care homes can expect from us for any placements we make and a point of reference when considering whether social care can cover the full cost of care. This rate is much lower than those that homes will typically offer a family who are finding their own care as the council buys so many places and can negotiate its rates in return for using providers.

“We can also consider a family contribution or “top up” to make up the difference between what the council expects to pay and the families choice of home if there is a difference. t is important though that making such top up payments is affordable and sustainable for the family as we want to avoid having to move someone in future if funds become depleted again.

"However the council’s policy, in line with other councils, is also clear. When we are required to meet the cost of funding care we have to do so within our constraints and consider the choices available – taking into account what is reasonable in terms of locations and the choices offered and their costs. But where the council can offer an alternative choice that meets a person needs at a lower cost or the family cannot make a top up, we may also have to consider moving the person.

“We always try to find options in line with the family’s wishes but we also have to be cognisant of the financial challenges we face in trying to be fair to all the residents we have to fund and ensuring that we do not disadvantage those who have no support or funds as well as those who start by funding themselves and later need our support.”