“Unacceptable exploitation” of care home residents must stop

Published: 09/02/2015

From April care homes will no longer be able to charge residents and their families top up fees and surcharges without a legal agreement signed by the family.

It would appear many families paying for their loved ones care are being unfairly charged for ‘additional extras’, the money of which is being used to subsidise other residents.

Families can pay extra for what is considered a ‘superior service’ such as larger rooms and/or better views. However, in many cases families are being charged extra simply for basic care.

This is all set to stop however after the government published regulated under the Care Act which will prevent care homes from asking for a top up without a legal agreement that they can do so with the local authority. This will also need to be signed by the family. The agreement must outline what additional services are being provided for and families will be able to request a review of any ‘top up’ arrangement.

Critics have been more than vocal in their opinion; Norman Lamb, the minister responsible for care has described the act as an “unacceptable exploitation” while Simon Bottery of the charity Independent Age believe “the whole thing is a rip-off” and somewhat strategic given it is done at a highly distressed time when families “do not feel in a strong position to start haggling over price”.

Lee Baker, Head of Care Home Fees, comments:

“It is great to see the government putting provisions in place to prevent families paying unnecessary care home fees. However the fact is it isn’t just ‘additional extras’ care patients are paying unnecessarily, it is in fact care itself!

“There remains an automatic presumption that we have to pay for long term care. Yet in reality, patients requiring residential and/or nursing care due to a primary health reason may be eligible for funded care, regardless of how much money they have personally. In my opinion the government needs to be doing more to promote this fact instead of allowing the conjecture to continue.”

Content correct at time of publication

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