Eviction threat in care home fees row

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2011
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A residential home in Temple Fortune has threatened to lock an 82-year-old resident out of her room, with her bags packed, in a dispute over more than £12,000 in unpaid fees.
David Lightburn, general manager of Leo Baeck Housing Association's Clara Nehab House, warned Solomon Cohen that unless £12,213 was received by Wednesday lunchtime, his mother Leonie would have "her possessions packed into boxes and her stay terminated".

In a letter, Mr Lightburn alleged: "It is clear you, your mother or any other member of the family have no intention of paying the outstanding balance…Your actions, or lack of them, have placed your mother in this invidious position."

He said the warning had been a last resort in forcing relatives to confront the situation. In the event, the threatened eviction was not carried out and the home plans to pursue the outstanding amount through the courts.

Mr Cohen, a former hedge fund manager, said his mother was awaiting heart valve replacement surgery. She had been in the home since November but her stay was only "temporary". He claimed Barnet Council was responsible for footing the care bill, but he had not received a response to a funding application. Care home residents are usually ineligible for statutory funding unless their assets are below £23,000. Mrs Cohen owns her own home.

Mr Cohen said the family was unwilling to sell his mother's house to pay for care because she was planning to move back home after surgery and could not afford the £12,000 demanded.

"I can't believe the home would be so heartless as to threaten to throw an elderly woman with a heart condition into the street. It is sickening."

But Mr Lightburn countered: "We felt we had no option but to pursue this course of action. Never in 25 years have I come across a family willing to put their elderly relative in this kind of position. We are a charity and we cannot keep subsidising Mrs Cohen. But realistically, we are not in the business of throwing elderly people out into the street."

A Barnet Council representative said: "In cases such as these, the council would work with all parties concerned to make sure the resident receives the level of care they need."

    Last updated: 2:56pm, July 14 2011