Care Home and Third Party Top Up Fees Often Charged Incorrectly
Have you been asked to pay a third party top up fee on the basis that a care home is too expensive and the Local Authority will not meet the full cost of care for an elderly relative?
The Local Government Ombudsman
has recently issued a report which states that many Local Authorities have misused their powers
to seek a third party contribution from the families of care home residents who have sought help with fees.
Local Authorities Have an Obligation to Provide Care
A Local Authority has a legal obligation to provide residential accommodation to adults in need of care
Where financial assistance is sought towards payment of care home fees then the Council can limit the amount they are prepared to pay for the accommodation. But this can only happen where someone chooses to live in more expensive accommodation and it can be shown that cheaper accommodation is available and there has been a proper assessment of needs by Social Services.
In these circumstances, the Council can seek a "top up"
fee from the families of care home residents where a third party is willing and able to meet the difference in the cost of care
You're Already in Accommodation and the Money Runs Out – What Now?
It's often the case that an elderly person is paying privately for care and then the money runs out. In this situation, a Local Authority cannot
put someone in the position where they are forced to move into another care home simply because the Council say that the fees are above their usual standard rate.
Having to uproot an elderly person simply because funds have run out is arguably unlawful and the Council should not put families in the position of having to find the extra money to pay a top up fee without considering the impact that this will have on the elderly resident. If this is not the resident's best interests
or there is no third party who is able to pay a top up fee, then the Council still have to pay the full accommodation fee.
How Can Simpson Millar's Care Home Team Help?
The Local Government Ombudsman recently revealed findings that many families are being charged too much for care
. Lots of people aren't being offered an affordable option in their area and top up fees are being charged incorrectly.If you believe that you have been wrongly charged a top up fee then please contact our Care Home Department for advice as you may be entitled to claim money back. It's important to seek advice soon after you suspect that there is a problem as complaints usually have to be made within 12 months unless there are exceptional circumstances.