…for our free triage service – scroll down for the form, but don’t forget to read this information which puts you in the picture about what we can and can’t DO
Our Charging Model
Our Triage work is free to all: we give you up to 3 hours’ probing and fact sorting and legal analysis for free. This level of expertise can resolve the problem altogether or give you the means to consider your options. We give you a steer as to the nature of your legal problem, the strength of the case, in terms of whether the law is on your side, and also the monetary basis on which we would give further legal advice, if you wanted it.
After Triage, our ongoing Free Scope work is any apparently strongly evidenced issue, about a pressing, current, public law issue of legality or fairness or delay, to do with adults’ social services assessment, advocacy rights, care planning, budgets or cuts, or delivery of a care plan.
CHC, social services; charging law, direct payment logistics issues, ordinary residence disputes, complaints furtherance, and hand-holding to avoid a legal problem arising, rather than sort an existing one out, have always triggered a charge, under our model. That’s £135ph, and no VAT on top.
We don’t get involved in Court of Protection or pure safeguarding work, please note. We are public law experts, challenging the legality and sufficiency of care plans/budgets.
We don’t take up complaints against provider organisations, directly: we focus on what we know, which is councils’ obligations and duties under the Care Act.
Our own Trading Company exists for complex matters that we feel able to take on, at our advertised rate of £175ph for individuals, and not for profit businesses – or £200 for companies that are commercially driven. All accounting profit goes to support the charity’s free Triage offer. This is still less than a law firm in the private sector would charge.
The Referral system
We ask anyone about to make a referral to please try going to our Self Help pages and suggested ‘scripts’ for various ‘What If….’ situations, FIRST, here.
If you can’t find help there, then SCROLL DOWN and fill out the form, after reading the guidance below …
If you can’t do the form, at least not without some help or guidance from one of our volunteers, because you have a disability or a condition that makes it impossible for you to cope with that request, then please feel free to book a call on the ‘Books’ icon on the RH side of this page. You will need to explain why you can’t do the form, to get a call back.
If you do complete the form, please make sure you click SUBMIT at the end of the Referral form. Please correct any flagged up errors before you close this referral page – some boxes are mandatory. You will see a message telling you that you’ve successfully submitted the form, if you have filled it all in and the internet is functioning!
We’re not an ordinary ‘advice and information’ service about health and social care, please note. That’s a service that all councils are obliged to maintain for free, in their own local ways, under the Care Act. If it’s basic factual advice and information about how the system should work, local to you, the local authority is obliged to provide this under the Care Act, and ought to be able to tell you which direction to head in, for the right kind of inputs for the particular situation. We’re not allowed to do their job for them!
We’re experts in the extent of the rights and duties associated with the adults’ social care and NHS Continuing Healthcare legal frameworks, in England and Wales – ie the remedies available when the system doesn’t even work as it SHOULD do!
Although we do offer a phone service, Mondays to Thursdays, it’s really intended for people who haven’t the technical/IT or cognitive skills or confidence to put the problem down on paper/email/our form. The time we have to spend on the phone counts towards the totalling up of the time we are committed to giving for free (up to 3 hours of Triage thinking), please note.
We really do prefer the referral to come in on our referral form, because of the risk that some members of the public might treat phoning us as a free source of info about things we’re simply not experts in, or just someone to talk to – and then, the public’s donations wouldn’t be enough to make the kind of advice that we need to concentrate upon, viable and sustainable, in the longer term. That’s us asking you to do the same as you would in any other emergency: you’d not call 999 when you really need a plumber, we hope.
Secondly, not all our services are FREE, even when we do get a person to fill in the form: most people end up in our low cost chargeable category, although we will always find out enough from them to make that decision, for free, via our triage service. We would not want to increase the costs that would eventually have to be invoiced to all our clients, on the basis of a first phonecall, lasting for a very long time, for want of just thinking it through, in advance. So please do help us to help you and as many other people as possible, by thinking about it all first, and considering what you’d do, if told that even that very first bit was going to be chargeable advice.
We have volunteers to support people who really can’t cope with composing their concerns, facts and thoughts, but if you do have the ability to write stuff down coherently, here’s some guidance as to how to structure it, below.
If that’s really no good, you can of course book a phone call, using the Books icon on the website. We don’t function on Fridays, please note, or after 4pm, but we love it if you leave a voicemail.
Lastly, publicly funded Health and Social care services do not have absolute duties to do anything, so the fact that you may be struggling to get (or keep) what you think is necessary, or whatever it is you think that ‘they should’ be doing, is not necessarily a legal problem. It’s only if they’ve behaved irrationally, illegally, unfairly or ignored someone altogether, for an unjustifiable reason, or an unjustifiable length of time, that you might have a legal problem that we can help on.
Legal Aid entitlement
We’re not a Legal Aid Agency contractor able to cover your costs of advice through legal aid.
But if you and your partner have less than £8K in savings, and you don’t own your own home with any more than £100K of equity in it, after the mortgage is taken off the value, you may well qualify for Legal Help, (preliminary legal advice). You will then need to use our spreadsheet of contact details of appropriate firms, to find a law firm that doesn’t just say ‘Sorry, we have no capacity right now, unfortunately’.
The government’s own website on Finding A Legal Aid Lawyer is of absolutely no use in indicating whether there will always be a willing and able professional reception of your legal problem.
If we think you should qualify for legal aid with regard to your means, we will summarise it for you in language that ought to get you over the threshold, but if you don’t qualify we will offer you the chance to pay for that summary so that you can go to any other law firm you like, even if you don’t want to stick with us: we are not a law firm, remember.
If you have too much in savings or income to qualify, we have links with law firms that will offer to act for you for a low cost fee, after we have done a few hours of free or chargeable work for you, to get the case into more manageable shape.
Useful questions to focus on:
- For whom are you requesting legal advice? Is it yourself, or a friend or relative aged over 16+? If it’s someone else, please put YOUR OWN contact details down, on the form, first, but then fill out the details about THE OTHER PERSON’S situation for all the questions that come after your bit about yourself.
- What is the illness, disability, condition or mental health problem that’s led the person with the problem to seek public sector help, please?
- What is the day to day mental capacity of that person like, please? What would they be ‘allowed’ to decide for themselves and what would they not by those who care?
- Where is that person currently living? Try to get its status correct: is it a care home, supported living, or their own OWNED or rented house, please, or a relative’s home?
- Who exactly has said what – and to whom about the issue, and when, and in what form, ie verbally or in writing, please? This is the KEY information that anyone trying to give legal advice would need, for a public law challenge, and what we need for making our Triage decision.
- Do you think a decision has been MADE, or maybe only been hinted at?
- Do you have EVIDENCE of what you believe to have happened or to have been said? You CANNOT ATTACH information to this form. We’d like to know WHAT you’ve got, but you can’t send it in as yet. Even if we invite you to do so, as part of our process, we want only a little at a time please, not a file-full! We don’t want to drown in your zip folders or pdfs, as this work can be enough to crush us too, sometimes! We can’t afford to let that happen.
- Has the person with the problem or anyone who’s helping them, done anything about that, in any formal sense, so far? If there has been a written or telephone complaint, already, how long has the wait been, for any outstanding response? Is there a decision letter that you could send us?
- We don’t mind being asked our view, if you’ve already had advice from a regulated law firm, but if you’ve had 3 or more opinions that you don’t agree with, from regulated lawyers, PLEASE DON’T USE US, AS A CHARITY, for a 4th+ bite at the cherry. It’s not sustainable, realistic or fair – because we have no public money coming in, to keep us going.
If you are contacting us about YOUR OWN Matter, start at box 10, below (Title of the person with the problem).
If you are contacting us about someone else’s issue, fill out the first 9 boxes about YOU – and then do the rest of the form about the person you’re contacting us about.
Before you click submit, please double-check that you have filled in all required fields.