Row erupts over care home provider’s top-up fees

Consumers Feel The Pinch With Christmas Around The Corner

A care home provider’s decision to notify its residents of an additional £4,000 in top-up fees has been criticised by the local Health Board.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it was “concerned” that Welsh care home provider Pendine Park Care had informed its residents and their families of the fee hike, adding it was “conscious of the negative effect this was likely to have on them”.

A spokesperson said: “The Health Board sets a standard fee rate for NHS continuing health care which increases year on year. However, every patient is an individual. If there is evidence of additional health needs that require a bespoke package of care then additional payments are made to the care home to provide the health care that the patient requires.

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“The Health Board is taking measures to ensure that all affected patients are having timely reviews of their health care needs so that we can determine whether the additional higher cost ‘premium’ accommodation charges being imposed by the care home owner are necessary for identified clinical reasons.”

In response, Pendine Park Care said care homes in North Wales could not continue subsidising the Health Board.

It accused Betsi Cadwaladr of reneging on a previous promise to introduce a toolkit or formula to calculate fees fairly and transparently.

As a result, the care provider said it had been “inevitable” that it would have to follow other care organisations in asking for a top up.

The company said the additional £75 a week, or 40p an hour, was to meet the “significant shortfall” in the continuing health care (CHC) fee set by the Health Board.

Its spokesperson said other care organisations charged significantly more, with another provider imposing a £200 additional fee.

“The crux of the problem is that the inadequate fees paid to independent providers have meant that social care has been chronically underfunded for decades and this is something that has also suppressed pay across the sector,” the spokesperson said.

“We believe it is morally wrong and unfair that you can be paid more for stacking shelves in a supermarket than to provide skilled and dedicated care to vulnerable people.

Pendine Park Care noted the “more reasonable approach” to fees taken by the local authority that had increased its weekly fees in April, which now stood at £839 compared with the £813 paid by the Health Board.

Residents funded by the local authority have an additional £29 personal allowance from their weekly pension, the spokesperson added.

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The author Lee Peart

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