Britain’s biggest care home operators are asking new residents and their relatives to prove that they can afford to pay private fees for up to four years before offering them a room, according to an investigation by Money Mail, the Daily Mail’s personal finance team.
In a report today, Money Mail says that operators are using teams of financial advisers to interview older people and their families to find out details of their savings, pensions, investments and the value of their home.
With some care homes charging over £50,000 per year, prospective residents would have to show they had the ability to pay over £200,000 over four years.
Money Mail did not name any care home operators that use the financial investigation process, but said that the practice is becoming more common as firms say they cannot afford to accept local authority-funded residents.
It is commonplace for self-funded residents to pay considerably higher fees than LA-funded people in the same care home, so income per resident can dip considerably if their ability to self-fund runs out.
Experts do not object to a thorough discussion about a person’s finances and what this means for their long term care provision. However, they do question people being forced into proving they can afford to pay for their own fees before they will be admitted.
Charity Age UK told Money Mail that increasing numbers of care homes are forcing families to sign legally binding contracts promising they will cover these fees if their loved one’s cash runs out. These relatives could face court action if they fail to meet their obligations.
In extreme cases, care homes are inserting clauses into contracts stating that families cannot fall back on state funding at all, the Money Mail report says.
Steve Lowe, policy adviser at Age UK, told Money Mail: “People sign up because they are under pressure and want to do the best for their family member.”