A family has hit out at the council after a blunder forced them to use funeral savings to pay for care costs.
Louis Janaway, 88, was owed £17,000 by Cheshire East Council after being overcharged for his wife Maureen’s care home in Lyme Green.
But as Louis struggled to get his refund, the local authority began chasing HIM for £5,800 in backdated care costs - threatening legal action if he didn’t pay up.
Devoted Louis, who travels to visit his wife of 61-years every day from his flat in Congleton, was forced to use money in a savings accounts set aside for the couple’s funerals to clear the debt.
The distressed great-grandfather finally asked for help from his daughter Sarah Waring and husband Simon who, with help from the Macclesfield Express, managed to get his money back - and an apology.
Louis has spoken out in the hope no other family has to endure a similar experience.
He said: “It has been a very difficult few years dealing with Maureen’s Altzheimer’s, selling the family home in Macclesfield and moving her into care, then recovering from a stroke.
“It was a big surprise when I started getting these letters with sinister references to legal action, especially because they owed me money. I didn’t know what to do. It was very stressful.”
Louis’s problems started in September when the council wrote to him telling him that 83-year-old Maureen’s care at Lyme Green Hall should have been fully funded by the council since the previous March when her savings and assets dropped to its £23,000 threshold.
For two months he attempted to get back the £17,000 he was owed but got nowhere. Then he got a letter explaining Maureen’s care had increased and he had to pay £5,800 or the council would stop paying the care home.
Eventually Sarah and Simon stepped in. But after countless phone calls and emails, they felt forced to stage a sit-in protest at council’s offices in Macclesfield to try and resolve the issue.
Sarah, of Knowsley Road, Macclesfield, said Louis’ treatment highlights systemic problems.
She said: “This has caused a staggering amount of stress and turmoil for an vulnerable man whose reason for living is making sure his wife is safe and cared for.
“The council needs to remember that it’s not just children who put their elderly parents into care, but husbands and wives, another elderly person.
“This is not someone deliberately not caring but it is a problem with the system and process which totally disregards the individuals involved.
“Dad was lucky we were there to help.
“What about all those people who don’t have that help?”
A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: “Cheshire East Council attaches a high priority to the needs of our elderly residents and, as with all councils, we are faced with an increasing demand for local authority support in the elderly care sector.
“We endeavour to deal with all applications for financial support in a professional and expedient manner. Unfortunately, on this occasion we did not meet our customary high standards, and we have apologised to the family for any inconvenience and distress this may have caused.
“We have now resolved the issue of the outstanding balance owed to Mr Janaway and have agreed with the family to meet to discuss any outstanding issues or concerns they may have”.
Pub meeting led to 63-year-love affair
It was love at first sight when Louis met Maureen in a pub on Christmas Eve 1953.
He said: “She was an attractive girl and tall like me, which was unusual. But the thing that I liked most about her was her character. She was bright, intelligent and had a lovely presence.”
That night smitten Louis offered to take Maureen to midnight mass at a church and then walk her home, a chivalrous act which started a 63-year love affair.
They married in 1955 and had three children, Paul, Stephen and Sarah, moving around the country with Louis’s job.
But their blissful life took a tragic twist when at just nine years old Stephen died of leukaemia. Louis, a retired engineering draftsman, said: “It was a traumatic experience for the whole family. Maureen suffered from depression but was determined to get through it and, with help, did.
“She was amazingly strong, keeping her job as a headteacher and keeping the family together.”
Out of the tragedy the couple felt compelled to do something to help prevent other families from sharing their pain. They got involved in the Leukaemia Research Fund (LRF), a charity which has revolutionised treatment and improved survival rates for the cancer. The Janaways set up fundraising branches firstly in Hinckley, Leicestershire, then in Macclesfield, where they have lived in the 1970s. Over two decades these branches raised £750,000. Maureen was recognised for her effort and met the late Princess Diana at a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
Although Maureen never taught in Macclesfield she never stopped learning and in her later years studied the history of art and got a degree in French.
Louis said: “Maureen was a great scholar. She had such a brilliant brain. Maureen’s decline form Altzhiemers’s has been slow over the last 12 years. She is bedridden now and her memory is fragile. She recognises me and you can recover her memories, but it is gradually fading. It’s a sad end.”