Fight to get Ely woman back home after five years in Great Yarmouth care home at the cost of more than one million pounds
PUBLISHED: 09:49 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:17 13 September 2018
The distraught parents of a woman from Ely who has been in a Great Yarmouth care home for five years - at the cost of more than one million pounds to Cambridgeshire County Council - say they live in a "nightmare" battle to get her home.
Alison Grey, 49, who has a learning disability and autistic spectrum disorder, was placed in Decoy Farm, Browston, in October 2013 as a “short-term” measure for “up to three years.”
Since then, her parents Valerie, 68, and Roger, 72, have campaigned for her to be brought nearer to home - with a court hearing in 2015 resulting in the county council agreeing that the right place would be found in Ely for Alison.
The hearing at Norwich County Court in April 2015 was told: “A professionals meeting took place on March 13 2015 to discuss alternative placements at which CCC agreed that a service equivalent to that provided at Decoy Farm but closer to AG’s family home in Cambridgeshire would be in her best interest.”
Mr and Mrs Grey say that the saga has led to a spiral of anxiety and depression for Alison and deterioration in their own health, meaning that they can’t undertake the 166-mile round trip to visit her anymore.
“It feels cruel, a never-ending nightmare which has seen Alison lose everything she had,” said Mrs Grey.
“We just want her to be settled and back home with her family and friends. We cannot do the miles to see her anymore.
“She is very unhappy and depressed and this is why we are calling on the council to help us yet we’re told one thing and then another, why is it taking so long to get her back in Ely?”
Before her condition worsened, Alison volunteered at the Sue Ryder Care Home in Ely and Princess of Wales Hospital nursery in Ely.
“She was amazing with people and brilliant with children,” Mr Grey said.
“Now she has lost everything she had. It has been a fight for three years to get her back home.
“She has problems and can be very challenging – we are not denying that. But she is a human being who can tell you what she wants; which is to be back home with the right people.”
Alison had previously been in supported living accommodation in Littleport before it was decided that she needed more help.
Her care in Decoy Farm costs £4,212 a week – which is paid for by Cambridgeshire County Council.
In 2015 the county council said that they would find land in Ely as part of plans to build a sheltered living complex for people with learning disabilities.
They say they are currently reviewing all placements of people with learning difficulties in homes outside of the region.
They insist that the “person’s needs and best interest” are at the “heart of every decision.”
Mrs Grey continued: “We even looked ourselves and found a site in Ely where they could build but we were told it was not appropriate.
“She was only meant to be in Decoy Farm for the short term, up to three years, but if she didn’t go there then we were under the impression she could have gone anywhere in England or Wales.
“We just feel as though nothing is being done.”
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Our duty of care means that a person’s needs and best interest are at the heart of every decision we make regarding their care.
“While it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases, as a rule we would not place people in out of area provision unless there’s no provision locally that meets their needs or if the person or their family have advocated that this was in their best interests.
“We are currently reviewing all placements of people with learning disabilities in residential and nursing homes outside of Cambridgeshire.
“This comprehensive work is to ensure that these provisions continue to meet the person’s needs and to consider where we should be putting plans in place to commission accommodation and/or care to enable them to move back to the County.
“We are also making sure our care provision remains sufficient now and in the future by planning for the necessary additional capacity that will minimise the number of new out of area placements in the future.
“Discussions are underway with several service providers and property developers to create more services in Cambridgeshire for people with complex needs. We have made funds available for new bespoke and specialist housing and several sites are considered.
“We are currently liaising with property developers and family carers whose sons or daughters may be returning to Cambridgeshire to these proposed sites in the future.”