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Care home residents are "being made to cover shortfall"

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An increasing number of elderly people are paying more for care homes to subsidise the lower fees paid by local authorities, a charity warned this week.

Figures for last year show that four in ten (41 per cent) of those receiving residential care are self-funding. This compares with 29 per cent a decade earlier.

On average they pay between £603 and £867 a week, with fees tending to vary depending on the part of the country a person lives.

By comparisons, the fees paid by councils – to cover the cost of those who can’t afford to finance their own care – typically range from £421 to £624 each week.

Age UK has concerns that this means those capable of covering the cost themselves are being used to shore up a system under increasing financial strain.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said: “We are worried that too many older people who pay for their own care are getting a raw deal and are unfairly being asked to pay the price for a failing care system.

“They not only often face eye-wateringly high weekly rates, calls to our helpline show that some are being asked to pay even more in ways that most of us would regard as ‘sharp practice’, as care homes struggle to keep the lights on.”

A common concern is that extra services are being incorporated into care home bills without the consent of relatives.

Age UK cites the example of one woman, living with dementia, who had been billed for “an entertainer.”

The woman’s daughter said that her mother neither wanted nor received that service and although the care home had assured her it had been a “one-off charge”, she was subsequently billed on a second occasion.