‘Disgrace’ of home care visit charges even when patients are in hospital

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Poorly people are being charged full fees for home care visits even when they are taken into hospital.

The practice was revealed by a council care worker who wrote to The Star to expose the system.

The worker said those who use the council’s care service are being forced to pay for visits they are not receiving for the first weeks they are in hospital - or lose their ‘slot’ when they are discharged.

The worker added: “I see the service users as the most important people in our job.

“How is it that when they are taken into hospital they are charged full rate for the service of a carer when they are not even at home?

“I speak on behalf of numerous people - both those who receive the care and people providing it.

“The city is a disgrace to humanity - money is more important.”

A second care worker said: “I feel it is really unfair that we are doing this. We are charging people for care they are not receiving when they are sick or injured.”

Sheffield Council said care service users are being asked to pay a maximum of £109.23 per week - which rises to £114.69 from April 11. However, one third of users do not have to pay at all.

Eddie Sherwood, director of care and support, said: “We have to carefully balance the financial contributions people make towards their own care, with maintaining a high quality and consistent service.

“In the case of payments while in hospital, members of the Fairer Contributions Commission, which consists of people who access social care services throughout the city, councillors and council officers, decided the fairest way to manage the arrangement was for contributions to continue for three weeks.

“This is purely so their care stays in place ready for when they leave hospital and return home and so any places or arrangements are not re-allocated.

“If this wasn’t put in place, then people could face a situation where they had to join a waiting list on leaving hospital, which the commission was keen to avoid”.

People admitted to hospital are urged to activate their annual entitlement to a four-week ‘payment holiday’, which they are entitled to take and allows them to retain their places with carers.