Could a lack of financial safeguards means care home residents are held to ransom?

Published: 21/01/2015

Patients could be forced to pay escalating care home fees or risk having to move to a cheaper home after one resident saw her fees increase by 129 per cent.

Eunice Edmondson went into a nursing home in December 2001, paying just over £30,000 for her first year of care. A year’s care now costs £69,803, an increase of 129 per cent, significantly higher than the general rate of inflation (40 per cent) for the same period.

When the increase was challenged by her nephew and attorney, David Edmondson, Barchester Healthcare initially refused to supply a breakdown of costs. When it eventually relented, the breakdown offered no real explanation for where the increased money was going and refused to address why its charges had risen so sharply.

Head of the Care Home Fees department at Goldsmith Williams, Lee Baker, comments:

“For some of us care home fees will be one of our biggest financial expenses. The prospect that this figure can just grow and grow as each year passes with little, if any, safeguards in place is terrifying. It could even result in families having no other option but to disrupt their loved ones routine significantly by moving them into cheaper care. Measures must be put in place to ensure residents are getting value for money.

“However what makes this situation even worse is that many families paying increased care home fees shouldn’t be paying for care at all!”

If a person requires residential or nursing care for a health reason, including dementia, Alzheimer’s or after suffering a stroke or a series of heart attacks, then they could be eligible for their care to be paid for in full regardless of personal wealth. Lee explains further:

“Some patients have been wrongly assessed or, in some instances, not assessed at all and so presume they simply have to pay care home fees. I can’t stress strongly enough that this is not the case.

“If you have a loved one in care, we offer free assessment service to try and find out if they are eligible for funded care. If we believe they are, or if we discover they were never assessed, then we will arrange for a reassessment to take place with one of our experienced nurse assessors. If it turns out they do qualify for funded care and you paid care home fees we will also look to recover any payments you made for care during this time.

“However if it turns out the patient doesn’t currently qualify for funded care this doesn’t condemn them and their loved ones to a life of expensive care home fees,” Lee continues.

“Once you have contact us, we don’t forget about you! We’ll be in touch every six to twelve months or so to see if there has been any change in the patient’s health. If there has we can look to have them reassessed.”

Content correct at time of publication

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