Care home owners say councils “making up” rules on costs

There must be an alternative to “forcing someone to sell their home to pay for care” and the current means tested approach should be overhauled, providers have said.

Care home owners said that self-funders did not expect to live for free but said there was a “chasm” between those who pay and those who receive state funding.

A consultation on Scotland’s new National Care Service found there was widespread support from providers for raising free nursing and personal care contributions to lessen the financial burden on self-funders.

The UK government will introduce a cap of £86,000 on care costs in October next year but was heavily criticised after announcing that only the amount that the individual contributes towards these costs would count towards the cap rather than including local authority contributions.

The change, which was not revealed when the government unveiled its reform plans in September, will mean that people with lower levels of assets will need to spend the same as wealthier people before reaching the cap.

The Scottish Government has not yet addressed the so-called ‘hotel costs’ of care that can quickly diminish a person’s assets.

In its response, Rashielee Care Home in Erskine wrote: “I don’t think anyone expects to live for free but there is a chasm between those who self fund and those who are assisted with funding. 

“Nobody should know the difference. 

“People have a right to care and hard earned money from a lifetime of work should be protected.” 

Brian Murray, owner of Abbey Court Care Home in Glasgow, said councils were currently “making their own rules” in regards to charging policies.

He wrote: “How can local councils charge £900 a week for residential care but only pay out £635 per week to private providers?

“Councils can charge what they want to place residents in their own run care homes but private providers subject to the national care home contract are given much less funds and expected to provide the same services.

“Not all private providers are money grabbing offshore bank account holders, some of them are small independent providers who genuinely want to provide good quality care, but that is impossible under the current contract. 

“[Self-funders] should contribute to all of the above but only because it is fair, it should not be an exorbitant amount because local councils do not provide adequate funding. 

“Their must be an alternative to forcing someone to sell their house.”

He said this year’s uplift in council funding amounted to “40p per resident”.

“It’s a joke. Meanwhile PPE and other supply costs have risen 10x the usual price in the past year.”

Christopher Curnin of the Glade Care Home in Brechin said personal care and nursing contributions were “not reflective of the true cost of care” while the volunteer director of a care home run by a charity called for a new model “which works out the true cost of care and apply it to all parties”,

He wrote: “Too many care homes are taking self funders as they are seen as more profitable – this is not right.”

Alzheimer Scotland – backed by The Herald – is pushing for an end to the so-called dementia tax which it says results in care homes residents paying for healthcare costs that would be free on the NHS if they had any other terminal illness. 

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Social Care said the Scottish Government was committed to “ending the postcode lottery of care”.

He said: “It is clear there is a real hunger for change, and many areas where the system can be improved, and that people want to see this change happen as quickly as possible. We will take all the views on board and I will publish an independent analysis of the responses shortly.

“Our ambition is to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that that promotes quality and consistency of care and provides support for all.

“However we are not waiting to act to enhance Scotland’s social care services that’s why we invested £300 million to help deal with winter pressures, and we’re determined to go further.”

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