What is the length of time envisaged to allow a surrogate to take on the responsibility of registration in the case of the death of a registered person, and will that surrogate be liable in the same terms as the original registrant?
That case—perhaps I should have tabled an amendment as a result of it—involves a learning-disabled woman aged 65 who has been in some form of care or residential care all her life, and who was in residential care in my constituency when the care home closed because of the owner’s age. No one else would take the care home on, so I negotiated with social services and they agreed to move the woman to Hampshire, so that she could live nearer to her only remaining relatives—they did not take on caring for her, although they obviously took an interest. Unfortunately, her carer died in her sleep quite unexpectedly in November, and as an interim measure she went to live with her brother and sister-in-law, who are older than her. Now that she is living with them, the Devon authority paying for her care says that that is where she should stay.
Obviously, I will fight this case through the county council. Is there any way in which we can, in the unfortunate and unexpected circumstance of the sudden death of a named carer, ensure that such an event does not trigger a change to the underlying entitlement to service that the service user had before? Perhaps that is an unfortunate case and I will get a good resolution, but I ask the Minister to consider the context of it. Clearly, Devon county council now sees the death of the carer as an opportunity to reduce its commitment to a lady whom it is paying for out of area.
As a fellow Devon MP, I fear that I am well acquainted with the shortcomings of Devon county council, as is the hon. Lady. I am not in a position now to answer for the exact legality of the situation that she describes, but I will endeavour to do so in some other form. It would be for the Care Quality Commission to decide how long a surrogate would have responsibility for registration, rather than for it to be set in stone in legislation.