Self funders ‘paying price’ for care system strain

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A new Age UK report says elderly people paying their own way in care homes are struggling to get a ‘fair deal’.

‘Behind the headlines: Stuck in the middle – self funders in care homes’ reveals two in five (41%) residents in UK independent care homes are paying for their own care, up by almost a third (28.5%) over the last 10 years.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK’s commented: “More and more older people are paying their own care home fees and they are increasingly at risk of a raw deal because they are propping up a system that is seriously underfunded. They not only often face eye wateringly high weekly rates, calls to our helpline show that in some care homes they are being asked to pay even more through various extra charges as proprietors struggle to balance the books.

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“Older people and their families deserve greater legal protection from care home contracts that are one-sided and extra charges that are over the top. It also seems incredibly unfair that a care home resident can be evicted if they or their family are seen to ‘rock the boat’ by complaining. Surely the time has come to give these vulnerable older people their proper legal rights.”

Self-funders now on average pay between £603 and £827 a week depending on the area, compared to councils paying between £421 and £624 a week.

Ms Abrahams added: “A big underlying problem is that our care system is financially terribly shaky. The cost of running a care home has risen but the money councils have to buy care has fallen: isn’t it inevitable in these circumstances that many providers will look to fill as much of the gap as they can from self-funders? And isn’t it equally unsurprising that so many care homes are going to the wall?

“Sadly we are seeing more and more rationing of social care and in this instance it looks like Peter is being robbed to pay Paul. It’s an awful situation for everyone, most of all for older people in need of a care home place and their families. The government needs to grasp just how much of a crisis our care system is in and work with others, including Age UK, to address it.”

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The author Lee Peart

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