If they need care and support the Local Authority (LA) must produce a personal budget setting out the amount it will cost to arrange the care and support for the person. The budget must be realistic and enough to fund a suitable placement that will meets the needs of the person. Also the calculation must take into account the costs in the area where the person is.
If a person's assets are less than £23250 they will get some help from the LA and if less than £14250 all costs must be met.
Families are often encouraged to find a placement in a care home or nursing home themselves, and if the cost at the chosen home is more expensive than the LA are prepared to pay, the family is asked to contribute by means of a 'top up' payment.
The top up might provide the person with a larger room or a better view. But in many cases it is just subsidising a basic room that really should be paid for by the LA.
The person going into the care should not be paying the top up themselves. There are only 2 occasions when they can. One is where they have entered into a 12 week disregard period and reconsidering whether to remain in the home permanently. The second is where deferred payments been agreed with the LA. This is where a house is to be sold and the LA paid back later from the sale proceeds.
LA's should not set their contribution so low that a top up is needed to provide the assessed care needs of the individual. Where the only homes available that meet the needs cost more than the personal budget the LA must make up the difference and must not ask the family to pay via a top up payment.
Too often families sign agreements to make additional payments at a time of crisis, without understanding their rights, the future implications for them and under pressure from the LA. By taking some advice you may be able to avoid these payments and still ensure your loved ones are well cared for.
If you require additional information on whether you do need to make a top up payment, please contact our Wills and Probate department on: 01905 721600.