Are you sure you have to top up the care home fee?

There are many rules that govern what happens when you go into nursing care. Are members of the general public really expected to become expert lawyers when the situation arises for their family? Absolutely not. Should the local authority be clear and transparent in how it discusses charges? Absolutely. Are they? No.


With the local authority contribution level towards care so low it is not surprising that many family members feel compelled to pay additional care charges to top up fees so their loved one can move into a good care home. Advice in relation to top ups is key if you find yourself in this situation because not all top ups are required let alone lawful.


The Care Act is very clear in stating that the amount of an individual's care budget must be broken down into the amount the person requiring care must pay and the amount the local authority pay. There is often confusion in that families do not understand how the calculation is made or proper information is not provided to help them to understand. Families are often not advised to seek independent advice in relation to affordability and the lawfulness of a top up situation.


Often you will now find that linked to the question of payment of fees is the choice of home. Many care homes simply cannot care for residents at the low levels of funding set by the local authority and if approached many will refuse to take local authority funded residents without a top up payment.


There is a duty on the shoulders of the local authority to ensure that a person has a genuine choice of accommodation when looking to move into care, with at least one option being affordable within their budget as set by the local authority. There must be a choice of options and the person needing care should have the choice of where they live. Top up payments by families must always be optional and never as a result of funding failures in the hands of the local authority result in a lack of choice.


A recent local authority ombudsman case reviewed the situation with top up agreements and said "where there is no available and suitable option within the personal budget, the council must up the budget and pay for the placement in full (less the client contribution determined by the financial assessment). A local authority is not allowed to put an arbitrary ceiling on the amount it will spend of certain types of care.


Unless you know this at the point of choosing a care home you may find that you willingly accept making a top up payment when you do not have to. It is always important to properly review care paperwork as there are many people in the community who are probably making contributions they should not be making.


So how can Argo help with this? Our team of experts advise on care home funding, third party top ups and review the local authority assessments. We hold your hand throughout the assessment process and double check everything that comes your way. We argue too! If something is not right we will get it corrected and make sure everything is done for you in accordance with the legislation governing care funding. Not only that, we support you and your family. At a time when things are stressful and you are feeling different emotions, anger, guilt, worry, fear, sadness, failure (none of which are necessarily appropriate) we can alleviate the stress and the worry of what is going on and give you the confidence to proceed.


If you are a fish out of water let us help you!