A council cannot just stop paying for home help for a couple in their eighties in order to save money, a judge at Groningen court said on Tuesday.
The judgement could have repercussions for other councils when the government transfers responsibility for home help for the elderly and chronically sick to them on January 1, Dutch media report.
The case was brought by a couple (88 and 89 years old) who are still able to live independently at home because they receive seven hours of household help a week, paid for by Dantumadeel council.
The council said it was stopping their home help on January 1 so the couple and their daughter took the case to court.
According to the judge, the council cannot make a decision until after the new law comes into force. Even then it must first discuss the matter with the couple concerned. In addition, something in their circumstances must have changed since the last time the home help payment was assessed, the judge said.
‘The council should have looked into the possible consequences for the health and well-being of the couple. There is nothing that shows the personal circumstances of the couple have improved since the last assessment in 2012,’ the judge said.
Dantumadeel was a test case for the organisation for the chronically sick and handicapped Ieder(in). The organisation told news agency ANP that at least a quarter of councils are scrapping care services in a similar manner and may now be breaking the law.
The couple’s lawyer told ANP the judgement means that next year everyone who finds themselves without home help without a prior assessment of their circumstances ‘will be able to go to court and win’.
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