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Council and care home amend fee policies after overcharging resident

Michael King

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Moreland House care home in Hornchurch have agreed to change their charging policies after a resident paid too much for her care.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council and care home provided the resident’s daughter with confusing and incorrect information about the fees her mother owed.

The probe found the council at fault for contracting out collecting client contributions to the provider, contrary to current guidelines.

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Moreland House was found to have delayed invoicing the daughter for part of her mother’s fees, leaving with her a large bill when it arrived.

The Ombudsman found that the council did not set a personal budget for the mother or prepare a care and support plan and failed to offer her a placement without a top-up fee, which is not in line with the Care Act.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, (pictured) said: “In our 2015 focus report, and in a number of public reports since, we have told councils it is rarely appropriate to allow care providers to collect third-party top-up fees on their behalf – and certainly this should never be the only option available to families. Councils should also never allow providers to collect client contributions.

“When people move between having their care paid privately, and by the council, the responsibility for payment can confuse even the most astute financial expert. So it is especially important for councils and care homes to have clear, upfront policies on charging that cover all scenarios.”

Moreland House agreed to pay the daughter £250 to reflect her avoidable distress and agreed to stop entering into third-party top-up arrangements where a council has arranged the placement. The home pledged to remove references to third party top-ups in its private contract.

The home’s registered manager, Najmuddin Khan Mudhoo, told CHP: “We are happy with the outcome of the Ombudsman’s investigation and will amend our resident contracts accordingly.”

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