We are specialist Estate Planning solicitors within Croydon and Central London and have a strong reputation in assisting clients with care home fees or claims against incorrectly assessed care home fees. We offer competitive pricing and offer a bespoke service to all our clients.
Care Home Fees
The majority of people will be expected to contribute towards their care home fees from their income and capital. If permanent residential care is arranged by the local authority, the care home fees you would be expected to pay will be calculated by a means test, which is based on nationally set guidelines.
The local authority carries out the means test and assesses your care needs. Your income and assets, including your property, will be taken into account when deciding your care home fees.
Any interest in your home will be disregarded if it is occupied by your partner or a relative who is 60 years old or over, or a younger relative who is incapacitated, or a former partner who is divorced or estranged from you but who is a lone parent, or a child under 18 years of age who you are legally responsible for?
The local authority must disregard property for the first twelve weeks of someone becoming a permanent resident in a care home funded by the local authority.
As part of the means test, the local authority has a responsibility to consider the timing and motivation for the disposal of assets. The local authority has the power to recover any sums it has to pay towards care costs from the person who the asset was transferred to, if the deliberate deprivation of assets occurred within 6 months of the resident approaching the local authority for financial assistance. However, there is no set time limit beyond which the local authority has to ignore the transfers of assets. Therefore, if the transfer of assets took place more than 6 months before the application for funding, the local authority could still treat it as a deliberate deprivation of assets and so refuse to provide funding or treat the funding as a debt owed to them.
The Government set up the Dilnot Commission which recommended an increase in the means test threshold. In April 2016, the means test threshold increased from £23,250 to £118,500 and lifetime care costs are capped at £72,000. The lower limit of £14,250 has been retained.
This is only a brief summary of the regulations, which are set out in detail in the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG) 2013. CRAG must be followed by local authorities when administering the national charging scheme because it is based on the National Assistance Act 1948, which sets out the statutory framework for charging for residential care.
Care Home Claims
Our Reclaims Service helps families to reclaim care home fees and nursing home fees which have been paid incorrectly – perhaps because an individual in care was wrongly assessed as to their eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding – or worse still, never assessed at all!
In many cases, we act for the families of relatives who have passed away in care and often they have used their life savings, or had to sell their homes to pay for care unnecessarily and unfairly.
The process for claiming back care home fees incorrectly paid, follows a similar process to the Full Assessment, however the assessment is done on a retrospective basis, using historic evidence from GP, hospital and care records, and any previous Full Assessments that may have been carried out.
What Happens Next
Once our specialist team of Nurses has undertaken a clinical retrospective analysis of the individual’s care needs over their period of care, our specialist solicitors present the arguments for reclaiming care fees to the relevant Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), for consideration at a Panel Meeting.
In some circumstances, CCGs agree refunds for part periods of care only, and our legal team then decide whether to appeal for refunds against those periods in dispute. There are also issues of interest payments due on the care costs paid, and again, our legal team are highly skilled at working out the often complex, interest calculations, to make sure that the maximum entitlement is refunded.
Note: Some time ago, the Government imposed a deadline, such that any retrospective claims can now only be made for care costs paid after 31st March 2012. Care costs paid before that date cannot be reclaimed.
However, if you have already lodged a claim before 31st March 2012 which is ongoing, or has been rejected, you can still challenge that assessment for payments made for care dating back to 2004.
This deadline was supposed to be well publicised, but few people were actually aware of them. It may be subject to legal challenge, as it is another obvious and cynical move by the Government to protect their budgets without regard to the unfair practices the NHS often undertook in failing to properly assess individuals’ entitlement to NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding.
It seems entirely wrong to us, that individuals may have spent their life savings and sold their houses to pay for care – which should have been available for FREE – and now can’t reclaim those care home or nursing home fees just because the Government has imposed an arbitrary cut off for claims being registered.
How Barnes Harrild & Dyer Solicitors can help
For further information and a free telephone consultation, call our Central London or Croydon offices today on 0344 444 8216. Alternatively, reach out to us via the blue contact boxes at the top of this page, and speak to a senior lawyer.