Privately-funded care home fees "desperately need to be controlled"
A Somerset care home's "astronomical" annual charge to look after a pensioner has been denounced by care, legal and financial experts.
At almost £125,000, the yearly residency cost at Sherwood Lodge for a pensioner exceeds by some 5 times the national average salary.
Entering the care facility at a retirement village in December 2012, the pensioner currently pays £3,543 a month. However, the cost is rising to £10,355 due to a requirement by managers for extra staff.
The pensioner’s daughter noted that her mother will only be able to pay the facility's higher rates by selling her home.
The National Pensioners' Convention (NPC)
deplored as "astronomical" the fees faced by Mrs Watts, who cannot walk due to lymphedema, a condition in which bodily tissues become swollen.
"There is no cap on fees, no minimum or maximum that care homes
have to adhere to," said an NPC spokesperson. "They can charge what they like.
"It is worse than a postcode lottery. It is a home by home lottery, with each charging something different. It desperately needs to be controlled. An individual simply cannot afford to sustain such a high cost."
A spokesperson for the home which is operated by a charity, said the increased fee is for an extra 91 staff hours per week needed to look after the pensioner.
Care and financial experts have criticised the extortionate high fees. Describing the costs of privately-funded care as a "national scandal", a financial services firm said it had never heard of charges as high as those faced by the pensioner.
"This is a distressing, terrible situation for an ordinary family," said Donna Hopton of Cherryfind.co.uk. "In my view the government needs to step in with regard to residential care. Fees need to be capped at an affordable level for all."
The Department of Health said that the high costs of care for people whose needs are complex can be surprising. "We will publish our White Paper shortly and are working hard to secure cross-party agreement to find a sustainable long-term solution on social-care funding."
This is something that has been promised for a while without any sense of urgency. Most people are unaware that self funding is not the only way to pay the costs of care. Local authority contribution is available subject to a means test. However, NHS continuing care funding is available to those who can demonstrate a primary need is a health one. This is a package of services arranged for and funded by the NHS for people who are outside of hospital for on going health needs. We at Simpson Millar can assist clients if they have been wrongly denied free NHS continuing healthcare funding. “This is not an isolated case and until the government introduces radical changes whereby the cost of care is fair and affordable to those who need it most, sadly, some care providers will charge disproportionate fees” according to Simpson Millar.