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Third party top up fee - care homes - Carers UK Forum

Third party top up fee - care homes

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Hi, my elderly mother has recently gone into a care home. The social worker had recommended this due to her last sheltered housing requesting further hours to assist her day to day, so the social worker left it to me to search out a care home.
I found one, myself and my sister discussed Mam going in with the owner, and she was moved over.
I went on holiday, when I have returned Mam has had her first bill - this included a third party top up fee.

Mums care is funded by social services due to Mums savings being below the threshold and she is now left with pocket money each week, which will be enough to buy her clothes, take her out for weekend lunch etc.

However, I have been informed the top up fee is the family's responsibility, and it is usually present when the care home offer something extra compared to other care homes. I knew that the home was awarded gold standard for their hygiene and catering etc., but just thought that was a great thing, I didn't know you had to pay extra. I have not been informed of this at all and personally would find that extremely difficult as I don't work at present.
What do I do? will the council help further or will Mam need to be moved elseware?
(I am going to see the social worker on Monday)
The following article is a guide on the subject of " Top up fees " :

In 2013 the charity Independent Age published an excellent report into third party care home top-up fees. It’s worth promoting the report again here, as it contains vital information for all families faced with paying care home top-up fees. (See below for a link to more recent findings, too.)

The report revealed that many care home top-up fees should not be charged at all. It also shows that in many casers local authorities should be meeting the full costs of care.

In addition , the Which guide on the same subject :

http://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/fin ... op-up-fees
On this page we tell you about:

1. When third-party top-up fees can be paid
2. Being aware of annual care home fee increases
3. The contract for third-party top-up payments
4. Instances when the local authority may increase the personal budget, so avoiding the necessity of paying a top up

Well worth a few minutes to digest , and then ponder on your own situation !
Did any of the following take place???

"If your care is being organised by the local authority, then the main steps of the process are:
Your local authority does a care needs assessment to identify what help you need.
They make recommendations about your needs and whether or not you need residential care – this is called a Care Plan.
They work out a budget to ensure you get what care you need – this is called a Personal Budget.
They do a means test, also called a financial assessment, to work out how much you should pay towards your care home fees and how much they will cover."

"After the means test the local authority should give you a written record of their decision of what you will have to pay and what they will pay, and how they calculated it.
You should not be left with less than £24.90 a week after any contribution to your fees. This is known as your Personal Expenses Allowance."

(Source: AgeUK's "Paying for Residential Care" Fact Sheet)
It's odd that the care home says its the 'family's responsibility' to pay top up fees, as actually, neither family, nor anyone else, has the slightest legal responsibility for your mum.

I would take the bill and send it on to the council, and tell the care home manager that's what you've done.

I think a bit of 'hardball' is required here. Yes, the local council might then move your mum to a cheaper home, but that is up to them, not you. And of course, they could just cave in and pay the 'top up' themselves, or the care home could cave in and accept the 'underpayment' that the council are insisting on.

(Basically, councils insist on huge 'discounts' from care homes on the grounds that they book a lot of rooms at the care home. Shamefully, those 'discounts' are then paid for by residents who are self-funding! The 'true' cost of the room is somewhere in between what the council is prepared to pay the care home, and what the care home can get off the self-funding residents.)

But my key point is that YOU as a relative are NOT legally responsible whatsoever.

And it would take some doing to get your mum 'physically evicted' for 'non-payment of top up fees'.
NOT the family's responsibility. It is actually unlawful to ask the client to pay top ups, unless they specifically requested a bigger better room or extra services.
Make three copies.
One, (with a covering letter saying it is nothing to do with you) to the Local Authority by recorded/signed for delivery.
One also sent recorded delivery, to the home concerned, with a copy of your letter to the LA.

REFUSE to discuss it with the home. Refer them to the LA, saying the contract they have is with the LA, NOT YOU.

I was in a similar situation, the home threatened to stop caring for my very ill mum unless I paid the bill. In the end I paid and then reclaimed the whole lot, £8,000 from the LA. The person I saw at the LA was clearly VERY disgruntled that I knew the law. I told her that if she didn't refund the money I'd go to the Ombudsman.
(Having studied contract law at college certainly gave me a great advantage that day!)
Correct that the person (in this case Mum) can't be asked for a top up when they are fully funded. That is why they ask the family, but the family does not have to agree to it unless they specifically requested a different Home or better room than that the Social Services said they'd pay for. By getting family to select a Home, SS can try to say it was the families choice-even though they (SS) did not offer anything themselves. They should have offered an alternative. If they didnt you should not have to pay top ups.
There was someone on here recently who posted a picture of the form the family had been asked to sign by Social services (Derbyshire I think it was) but then it was only 2 paragraphs in the middle of a much longer from and IMHO didn't make it clear that the person signing was agreeing to an open ended contract which can be increased by any amount at any time. I think the Home then asks for their contract to be signed too.

Has anyone signed anything? If they did were they aware what they were signing and the implications? If sister signed then it is her who bears responsibility, not you, as she cannot sign on your behalf
If family does not pay a top up SS could move Mum to another room or another Home but this rarely happens as there aren't many beds/rooms/Homes at the low price the SS will pay.

Send the letters BB suggests. If you are not working and are on benefits there may be chance you are eligible for Legal Aid if you need it, but feedback on here suggests that SS and Home back down as they know they on sticky ground.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -week.html
If mum is fully funded then she would probably be the one entitled to legal aid, as the top up relates to her care. Just Google the name of your town or county, plus the words legal aid, and you should find an approved solicitor.