I fully approve of the aims of the Care Act which seeks to move service users from a position of passivity to one of empowerment. I think that the suggested care cap on residential care home fees will appease those who see their savings/assets/inheritance swallowed up by the local authority and are deeply unhappy about it (I come across many such people when I am out and about giving talks about the paying for care system, and I sympathise with their situation). Read More
Very interesting You&Yours on Radio Four last week about the Care Act and how it will affect people. A caller had been trying for weeks to ascertain from the local authority when and how he ought to be recording the care costs his relative was incurring so that they knew when they had reached the £72,000 ‘cap’, ie the point at which the government starts to pay for care. Weeks of banging his head against a brick wall with the health professionals was resolved in two seconds when the expert on the panel pointed out that this care cap does not come in until April 2016. Additionally they highlighted the need for the implementation of the Care Act to be properly funded! Another helpful and pertinent programme from Radio Four.
I was very sad to read that Jimmy Hill has been diagnosed with dementia. There has been much press coverage about the fact that his wife and solicitor are joint power of attorney for his financial affairs. Several comments from the family have been published which suggest that as a result of this financial arrangement they have been cut out of the decision making process when it comes to their father’s care however, this should not be the case. A health professional should consider the opinions of the children in their parent’s care needs and living arrangements if the children are keen to have a conversation about those matters. Certainly NOT having power of attorney for finances and property should not be any issue, the attorney facilitates the payment for services, the attorney does not dictate the nature of those services, nor should they. Good care decisions are based on the best interests of the person with dementia and anyone who loves that person has the right to have their views heard and considered.
Back in 2003 one of the first cases was highlighted in the wider media of someone being compensated for fees they had paid as ‘social care’ when they ought to have been receiving free NHS care (also known as continuing care). This prompted a wave of similar cases and whenever a big payout was reported I received scores of calls from people who wanted to know how to challenge NHS decisions about care fees.
Continuing care is quite complicated but the Alzheimer’s Society has a voluntary team of people who have worked on numerous cases for the public with much success – they can be contacted through the Alzheimer’s Society helpline: 0845 300 0336. They will talk you through the procedures and rules. I would advise people not to compare their own relatives with other people who have obtained continuing care however, everyone is different and can have underlying health problems which are not immediately obvious and a diagnosis of dementia certainly does not guarantee free NHS care.
People are allowed to backdate claims but the government is now setting some deadlines for retrospective payments: for people who are seeking a refund of fees in respect of care provided between April 2004 and March 2011, claims must be put forward before 30th September 2012.
On a less tight deadline, people seeking a refund of fees in respect of care provided between April 2011 and March 2012 must make their claim by the 31st March 2013.
Repayment claims can still be made even if the person in question has died.
An article on You&Yours today explored the situation in Staffordshire where the local authority was threatened with a Judicial Review if it continued to offer residential care home payments at less than the cost of care.
This has been the case for years: care homes win a contract with the local authority to provide beds for local authority referred residents. The local authority however uses the fact that they have block bought beds to pay less than the amount a self funder would pay. Of course this riles self funders and their families and quite rightly – why should they pay more than the person sitting next to them who is receiving the same care, food, heating and laundry services? They are essentially subsidising the people whose costs are being paid for by the local authority.
The Staffs local authority representative denied that the Judicial Review was what has prompted them to make a change and asserted that they had been considering amending the system for some time. He added that some homes might not welcome a change to the status quo as the local authority would start to look at quality of care before awarding contracts to homes if anychanges go through. I fail to see the disadvantages of this and imagine any decent care home would too. Any updates on this story will be posted as and when…watch this space.
More articles this week on paying for care. I am sticking my neck out here and will not be popular as a result but it does get my goat sometimes when people talk about having worked all their lives only for their money to be taken to pay for their care. Re savings I can sympathise but with over inflated house prices I cannot: using my parents as an example, they bought their 4 bed house on the Wirral for £18,000 34 years ago and paid that mortgage off before I left home 17 years ago. That house is now worth around £335,000. In effect the enormous rise in house prices has given them around £300,000. This is not money that they have worked for, it is money that I may be lucky enough to inherit that has been donated by housing market forces. Therefore if the system needs it to pay for their care I will give it without hesitation. What I will object to, however, is paying that money to a home which is not caring adequately for my parent/s. But that’s another debate entirely…