Social care funding: Westminster woman loses respite and forced too pay more towards care after moving across Camden border

Sari Alikhani at home in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sari Alikhani at home in Primrose Hill. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

When quadriplegic Westminster woman Sari Alikhani moved five minutes down the road to a new Camden flat, she was assured that transferring her care plan would be straightforward.

It has proved to be anything but for Sari, 40, who became paralysed from the waist down after contracting Guillain-Barré syndrome five years ago.

In Westminster, Sari’s care funding allowed her mother Barbara – who acts both as a carer for her during the nights and for her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s – six weeks respite funding.

Camden has only accounted for two days of this, leaving Sari stunned. It has also assessed her finances and asked her to pay £133 a week towards the personal budget for her care.

Sari said she accepts this, if it is what the council deems her capable of paying, but Westminster didn’t require her to contribute. Sari and her family continue to pay more to meet the hourly rate of her chosen carers.

She said: “The respite is really important. If I need any medication or anything during the night, mum gives it, and she looks after my father, too.”

Sari also had the number of funded hours of care she receives cut from 41.75 to 39.25, too.

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This amounts to roughly £40 a week. The council said this was because Sari’s family now employed a cleaner.

The council also explained that if Sari’s mother agreed to a carer’s assessment the respite funding could be re-evaluated.

She has been left confused by different ways of managing contingency payments – for example, for when appointments overrun.

In total, her direct payment has been cut by about £140, most of it due to the respite cut.

The Ham&High understands Camden includes these in direct payments and they build up to a maximum if unspent as the year progresses. Westminster instead awarded a fixed weekly sum that could be paid back if unspent.

Sari told the Ham&High: “I’ve complained but just had radio silence. I’ve heard different things from different people about the contingency.

“My fear is I am not sure I could ever call on Camden, and my care needs are only going to get worse. We moved to pay lower rent, but we’ve been paying out more.”

A Camden Council spokesman said it gives people “personal choice” over their care and added: “We set a personal budget working closely with the adult and their family. We are very happy to review the level of support we provide a particular individual, including respite care, if circumstances change.”