Column: The truth about care home fees

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Do you know the truth about care home fees? I’d suggest it’s unlikely as few people do.

I personally think a lifetime’s taxes and National Insurance contributions should cover our needs in later life but that’s sadly not the case.

If your assets amount to more than £23,250 you will have to fund all of your care.

If not you should be eligible for a contribution.

But ‘contribution’ means just that. An assessment is completed and the council decide what you have to pay.

From April 2016 the maximum the council will fund for a residential placement is £425 a week and for nursing £439 a week.

When you compare this to a 2015 NHS report that stated the average stay for one 24-hour period in hospital is £400 you can see the council contribution to care is regularly thousands short every week

Most care homes are left with no choice but to charge a third-party top-up.

This is an amount of money that a family member has to contribute each week to meet the fees.

Many homes have been forced into closure due to the amount of funding available for care from the council not meeting the strict standards of care regulator the Care Quality Commission.

The number of private providers declaring insolvency rose by 12 per cent last year.

The other funding option is from the local Clinical Commissioning Groups.

If they decide an elderly person meets the criteria for requiring nursing care they can receive two levels of funding.

The lower level is called Funded Nursing Care.

As from April 1 this was £156.25 a week.

The higher rate called Continuing Health Care Funding is between £576.25 and £595.25 per week.

However, to qualify for this the elderly person would need to have complex needs or be ‘end of life’.

Though they promote this as ‘fully funded’, you won’t find a care home anywhere who can truly care for this elderly person for this rate.

Therefore, most will ask for a contribution on top.

The Government are wanting to introduce a lifetime cap on care costs of £72,000 which is being introduced in 2020.

However, this will not include ‘hotel costs’ ie bed and board and will still be means- tested depending on the individual’s finances and assets.

So I don’t see this making any difference.