This is a traumatic time for all involved and may follow a death in the family or a period of upset as the decision is made to move into full time care. If the person going into care meets the financial criteria to be funded by the Local Authority the problem is compounded, or so it seems, by the lack of choice of care home.
No one wants the person that they love, who they have always known to be proud and independent, to live in an unsuitable environment. So when it is put to a family that there’s no home available that meets their standards and also falls within the limit payable by the Local Authority, it’s almost inevitable that one way or another the family find the funds for the top up fees.
But this may not be lawful, according to a recent decision against the Local Government Ombudsman.
Crucial Assessment Steps
First and foremost, the person going into care must be assessed under The Care Act 2014. This assessment is crucial as the Local Authority has an obligation to meet their needs. Advice can be sought at that stage to ensure that the care assessment addresses everything it should, including emotional and personal matters.
When the assessment is completed, the Local Authority must be able to offer a fully funded care home placement that meets those needs. If they are unable to do so, they cannot then ask for top up fees from a third party.
Many of us feel compelled to pay these for fear of losing the space or because they think we have no choice. In the case mentioned above a Solihull family reclaimed three years of top up fees they paid unnecessarily.
We advise that you seek advice early on when helping an elderly relative move into full-time care. There are many pitfalls and at an emotionally charged time the objective advice of one of our solicitors in Essex can provide much needed support. We are accredited in the Older Client Care Practice Award, and are members of Solicitors for the Elderly.
Get in touch with us on 01702 477106 to arrange a free, 30-minute consultation at our offices in Leigh-on-Sea or Rochford.