Sheffield widow, 95, charged too much for her care

Janice Sharp and her 95 year old mother Emily Gorman
Janice Sharp and her 95 year old mother Emily Gorman
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The daughter of a 95-year-old great granny overcharged for her care is warning people to look out for elderly relatives after she discovered the errors.

Widow Emily Gorman, a former civil servant and Woman of Steel during World War II, started to have carers twice a day in June 2014 after a fall left her housebound.

Her family discovered discrepancies in how many visits carers made to her Manor Park home, and the number being logged by provider Sanctuary Home Care and Sheffield Council, after cancelling her lunchtime visits last September because they were happening too late in the day.

Since then, Emily’s daughter Janice Sharp has battled to obtain paperwork, learning during the process that her mother had been overcharged.

Janice, of Totley, said: “On one day mum didn’t get a lunch visit until 2.55pm. She’d tried to make her lunch herself and it was burned to a crisp in the microwave.

“When I rang up the council to cancel lunch visits the man I was speaking to said something that made me suspicious – he was looking at paperwork I didn’t have.

“He was telling me mum was having certain calls and I knew she wasn’t.”

Documents obtained from Sanctuary show that, while carers were logging the correct visits on paperwork left at Emily’s house, a second set of internal notes included visits that had not happened.

On one day in July 2014, a carer correctly wrote in the family’s notes that she had made one morning visit. But documents held by Sanctuary Home Care said she had been visited three times.

Other visits were officially logged the day before Emily’s care contract began and when she was with her family. In January, council staff revealed there was a third set of paperwork – which also did not match – and Emily was due a refund.

Janice was also told the council was already looking into another similar case involving Sanctuary.

Janice, who handed all her paperwork in to the council last December, said: “I was doing this for the discrepancies, it was never about the money.

“I’m on the ball and looking after mum but what is happening to those people who have nobody?

“If it is happening to my mum it is happening to somebody else who might not be able to challenge it.

“Everybody should be very careful and look out for their relatives.”

Emily is now looked after by private carers.

She was sent a cheque for £177 after The Star approached Sheffield Council and Sanctuary, although the family say their calculations show she is owed more.

A letter from the council in May admitted 85 of Emily’s visits had not been on time and 33 of them were too short. It also said Sanctuary Home Care had put in place a ‘new management team’ in its Sheffield branch and regionally.

Sanctuary said ‘late cancellations’ of visits still warranted a charge and had caused a number of discrepancies but the refund had been agreed. The family say only the occasional visit was cancelled and that does not account for the number of discrepancies.

Liz Griffiths, head of service at Sanctuary Home Care, said: “We are sorry the refund has taken so long to process.

“We have developed a more robust system for recording the reasons and notice period for cancellations to ensure our clients and their families better understand any charges.”

Sanctuary also said that on 45 visits carers spent more time helping Emily than scheduled and it had provided a full breakdown of appointments.

Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living, said the council had apologised as service provided was ‘not consistently of a high standard.’

She said: “We investigated this complaint and have also let Mrs Gorman know that since her support ended, Sanctuary Home Care have put new local management in place.

“The council works closely with all home care providers we have a contract with to ensure care is of the right quality and people are charged appropriately.

“Where standards are not reached, we ensure improvements are made.”