Care home top up fees – Do I have to pay them?
Local Authorities are asking family members to “top up” their loved one’s care home fees. What’s this all about and is it right?
Whether it is time to choose a care home, or your loved one has already lived in a care home for some time, at some point they may not have enough money to pay in full for your own care. This is when the Local Authority are required to do an assessment of your financial means and decide how much you can afford and how much they will need to pay, so that your care fees are paid in full every month.
“Third Party Top Ups” or “Top Up Fees” are often requested by Local Authorities when they feel that the difference between the amount your loved one can afford to pay and the total cost of the care (the amount they need to pay) is too much.
To cut to the chase, a Local Authority can’t just simply say that a care home is too expensive and someone needs to “top up” the care fees – this could be unlawful but it happens far too often! Before you agree to pay a “top up” you want to look at the following:
- Has the Local Authority taken into consideration your preference of care home?
- Has the Local Authority identified other care homes which can meet your needs just as well but which are cheaper than the care home you like or are currently living in?
- If there is cheaper accommodation which can meet your needs, are there rooms or beds available for you?
- Is the payer of the “top up” willing and able to make the payments for the likely duration of your stay at the care home and has the Local Authority asked questions about this?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, but the Local Authority is insisting that a “top up” be agreed then it is important that you seek legal advice before signing any “top up” agreement. The law on “top ups” is complicated and there may be something unique about your circumstances which is important to raise with the Local Authority.
Alternatively if you have been paying a “top up” for a while now and feel that this is wrong, don’t delay in taking professional and specialist legal advice as you may still be able to take some action.