The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has this week published a report into care home fees after a year-long study. Unfortunately, the CMA found that care homes have been charging large, upfront fees, and charging families for weeks after their relatives had died. It has therefore opened a consumer protection case to investigate concerns that some care homes may be breaking consumer law.
How much does a care home place cost? And who pays?
Over 400,000 people aged over 65 are living in 11,300 care homes and nursing homes in the UK. Of these, 40% pay the full cost themselves. The others receive some help with funding from local authorities or the NHS.
In some cases, the NHS has a duty to pay for the costs of care. This is known as NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC). Whether or not a person is eligible for CHC will depend upon their individual care needs. This is not means tested, so the individual’s financial position is not of relevance.
If an individual is not eligible for CHC, they may still be eligible for NHS Funded Nursing Care. This is a fixed amount paid directly to a nursing home to pay for registered nurses employed by the home.
If the person going into care does not qualify for CHC, the local authority may have a duty to pay some, or even all, of the costs. This will be based on the individual’s financial position and is subject to a means test.
The average fee for someone paying for their own care is £846 a week. The new report shows, however, that Councils that cover the cost of a care home place pay an average of £621 a week. This is over £200 less than self-funders are charged. Many, understandably, believe this to be unfair.
The CMA found that this was because councils had managed to squeeze the rates that they pay, as they were facing a shortfall in their funding. Ministers in England have promised to outline the government’s plan to deal with this by summer 2018.
Due to the CMA’s worrying findings, it is now looking at taking enforcement action against some of the care homes responsible for the worst cases of upfront charges, and fees being charged after death. The CMA has also warned the other care homes that their practices could also be in breach of consumer protection law.
Our team can help you deal with care home fees. From advising on whether you may be eligible for assistance, to helping you protect your assets from being used to pay for your future care. We will keep an eye on any further reports from the CMA and write further on our website with updates.
Call us on 0800 988 7756 if you would like to discuss in further detail.