Charity Citizens Advice has called for a minimum period of notice on changes/increases in care home fees after a report found residents are being hit by hidden charges and sky rocketing fees.
A report commissioned by the charity into the cost of care revealed annual care home fees increased by an average of £900 and one region fees rose by £2,000 over the year.
It said care home fees are usually based on a weekly rate, but are often paid for monthly by direct debt. A mystery shopping investigation of 404 care homes across England revealed almost 1 in 10 (8%) only give a week’s notice that their fees are going to rise, in some cases resulting in That a week’s notice of a £52 per month rise.
Citizens Advice’s revealed nursing home care fees rose by £1,872 and residential care home fees by £572 on average from 2013/14 to 2014/15.
The calculation is based on 17,350 care homes operating in England in 2014, of which 4,374 provided nursing care.
It has called for a minimum amount of time care homes can give notice of a price rise. It said the Competition and Markets Authority should look into whether the care home market is working well for people paying for its services.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘People in care homes are at the mercy of price rises. A week’s notice puts enormous pressure on care home residents or their families to pay. It is unreasonable for vulnerable people to face such a small window to compare costs and make alternative arrangements if they cannot afford the higher fees.
‘Some people are also being caught out by hidden extra care fees appearing on their bill. Nobody can be expected to budget for extra costs that are not clearly set out by the provider.’
The report also found:
- Having someone accompany the resident on visits to the GP or the dentist can cost as much as £50 an hour.
- 30% of care homes do not include contents insurance for people’s personal items in weekly care fees.
- 67% do not include telephone use in weekly care fees.