Parliament talks about top-ups
Caring Times Latest
Concern about families paying top-up fees for care home residents was voiced in a Parliamentary debate led by former care minister Paul Burstow this week.
Mr Burstow said there was mounting evidence of confusion and rule breaking over the application of top-up fees by local authorities. He said the rules on top up-up fees need to be examined and told the debate that ‘we need to get this right as top-ups look set to grow in number’.
In response care minister Norman Lamb said he was concerned about the case studies of two older people Paul Burstow had highlighted in his speech. Mr Lamb said they ‘almost sort of smack of exploitation’ of the elderly people involved.
Mr Lamb said care home tops-ups ‘must be the positive choice on the part of the person, something that they understand, both in terms of costs and consequences, and never something they should feel pushed into doing as a necessity’.
Janet Morrison, chief executive of the charity Independent age welcomed the debate, saying top-up fees were meant to allow families to pay extra for care above a basic standard but many families were in fact paying for basic care that it was really the responsibility of the council to meet.
“Though councils are supposed to check that families really want to pay extra,” said Ms Morrison.
“Most councils don’t even know the true number of top-up fee agreements in their area. Families should only have to pay top-up fees as a genuine choice and not because they feel backed into a corner by a council or a care home. They need better advice and information before signing and regular reviews of the agreement. But the problem is not simply down to poor practice – our research shows that it is driven by the widespread underfunding of social care by national as well as local government.”