THE family of an elderly Basildon woman who was bedbound with dementia has been repaid more than £15,000 after they were unlawfully charged care home fees.

Essex County Council and Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have been ordered to repay £15,455, for gross maladministration, to the family of former Basildon resident, Doreen Cowell, who died in September 2017, aged 85.

It was just a few days before she died that the group and council were forced to admit that she qualified for free care.

The result came after a protracted tussle and her son John Petter’s dogged insistence that she was entitled to the care.

It was eventually agreed that this should span the period between February 21, 2017 to September 27, 2017.

Mrs Cowell, described as a larger than life mother, grandmother and great grandmother, was passionate about gardening, boating, and cooking, but gradually dementia robbed her of speech, movements and the joy of even recognising her son and brother.

She never knew her great grandchildren.

Mrs Cowell spent her last five years as a resident at Longview Care Home on Canvey.

Her son, who received the payment last week, said the process was a “catalogue of disasters”.

He said: “The entire system fails the elderly and sick, who often lose their money and are forced to sell their homes because the law is circumnavigated. The NHS is required by law to assess seriously ill people to see if they qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, which is free, and it failed to comply.

“CHC is one of the best known secrets in the country as the government, the NHS and council pretend that most patients in care homes are there for social needs and ignore the fact that care home residents are ill – especially if they are suffering from dementia”.

The council, despite Mr Petters insisting that his mother was legally entitled to free care, charged £442.33 per week for care home fees she never owed.

ECC had already been forced to pay compensation to the family in 2015.

A CCG spokesman said: “NHS Castle Point & Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) offered a retrospective review of the care provided to Mrs Cowell, where a period of care was assessed and found eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare applying the National Framework for Continuing Healthcare and NHS Funded Care.

“It is standard practice as part of the Department of Health 2015 Redress Guidance to provide reimbursement of fees that had been paid by the individual / family during that period.

“The CCG have communicated with the family of the late Mrs Cowell and supported them during this process”.

A County Hall spokesman said: “The CCG have set out the arrangements governing the repayment of fees where Continuing Healthcare funding (CHC) has been awarded on review.

“Decisions on eligibility for CHC are a matter for the relevant CCG.”