Social services delay costs OAP her life savings

A DISABLED pensioner from Hampstead was forced to spend her life savings on care after she was let down by Camden's social services

Tan Parsons

A DISABLED pensioner from Hampstead was forced to spend her life savings on care after she was let down by Camden's social services.

Helen Morgan, 87, is a diabetic stroke victim with arthritis, high blood pressure and incontinence. Partially blind, she cannot walk or look after herself and lives alone at her home in Constantine Road.

After three visits to the Royal Free Hospital between Christmas last year and the end of February, she developed bed sores and her health was deteriorating, so her GP recommended she receive respite nursing care.

She checked into Highgate Nursing Home on March 2 but with her funds running low, it was decided she should come home at the beginning of April.

But it took a further five weeks before social services made the arrangements for her to return, costing her an extra £8,000 she cannot afford to pay. They failed to arrange an ambulance to take her home and have also decided that she does not need round-the-clock care.

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Her executor and former neighbour Kate Canning said: "Whatever good the first month's stay in the nursing home did has now been completely undermined by the subsequent lack of care and neglect by the social services and her fears over the huge debt she has incurred. Helen has again lost weight and looks terrible.

"And it was judged by social services that Helen did not need continuing care. How ill does a person have to be and how could social services be so callous? All Helen wants is to end her days peacefully in her own flat."

Although very frail, Ms Morgan managed a brief conversation with the Ham&High.

She said: "I'm very frustrated and annoyed, and now I'm not only housebound but also chair-bound and bed-bound. The care home was very pricey and my extended stay caused a lot of unwanted expenses."

Ms Canning added: "Helen is very bright and good fun, and has helped so many people in her life. But naturally she now suffers from depression and anxiety."

She has called on the council to help Ms Morgan and refund the additional nursing home fees.

Age Concern Camden's chief officer Gary Jones offered his support. He said: "At times like these older people require quick re-assessments of their needs and care packages to be put in place as a matter of urgency. Sometimes things go wrong or the NHS and Adult Social Care take time to work out who should pay, and the older person loses out.

"Age Concern Camden's advocacy service would be pleased to support Ms Morgan to get the best possible services, and if necessary help her pursue complaints against the council."

A spokeswoman for Camden Council said: "We are taking Kate Canning's complaint very seriously and are investigating Mrs Morgan's case as a matter of urgency. The health and wellbeing of our residents is extremely important to us and we will do all we can to ensure Mrs Morgan receives the care to which she is entitled."

The council is currently planning to slash the number of care homes from four to two and a decision on whether they are to be run privately will be made in July. Centres in Branch Hill and St Margaret's in Hampstead, as well as Ingestre Road and Wellesley Road in Kentish Town, are to be replaced with homes in Wellesley Road and Maitland Park Road.