Khana v Southwark LBC [2001] EWCA Civ 999

The High Court held that a local authority was required to assess and meet needs, not to satisfy preferences for or insistence upon a certain type of accommodation. Whilst s21 NAA 1948 and s47 NHSCC Act 1990 contemplated an assessment of accommodation needs that took account of the aim of preserving the independence of the elderly in the community fro as long as possible, where the local authority concluded that those  needs were best addressed in residential care, it had satisfied its duties under the legislation.


Mr Karim, was the 71 year old primary carer of his 91 year old wife, Mrs Khana, an Iraqi Kurd who was blind, deaf, had limited mobility and had been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Mrs Kahana required support with her personal care and spoke only Kurdish. Although Mr Karim was assisted by his daughter in providing care for his wife, a local authority assessment had concluded that he was putting his and his wife’s safety at risk due to his own age and frailty and the local authority’s care plan stated that on balance both Mrs Khana’s and Mr Karim’s needs would be best met if she were placed in residential accommodation where she could receive 24 hour care. An initial offer of residential accommodation for Mrs Khana alone was followed by an offer of a joint residential placement for the couple.


Mr Karim objected to this, arguing that it would be a very last option as breaking his family up in that way would be contrary to Kurdish custom and culture where elders were seen as being intrinsic to the family unit and contended that his wife’s most pressing need was for a two-bedroom ground floor flat that would enable him, his wife and his daughter, as support carer, to continue to live together. He further argued that as the council had no Kurdish-speaking carers in the community or in any residential homes he and his wife would suffer cultural and linguistic isolation in a residential home.


The local authority’s view was that the care and level of support needed by Mrs Khana could only be provided in a residential setting. Mr Karim’s judicial review of the local authority’s offer of joint placement was unsuccessful. Dismissing his appeal, the Court of Appeal held that, on the evidence, the authority had been entitled to maintain its offer of a joint residential home placement, and had not been obliged to offer the two-bedroom flat as preferred by Mr Karim. Further, that preferred option would only have met some of Mrs Khana’s assessed needs, whereas the authority’s course was the only option that met her needs fully.

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