Are you paying care home fees that should be met by the NHS?

The subject of care home fees has long been a contentious one. On the one hand, the care provided by residential or nursing homes must be paid for, but on the other hand, who should pay for it?

Care fees can often run to tens of thousands of pounds – money that few people have to hand without selling their homes. However, care fees do not necessarily have to be paid for by the individual or their family.

Local authorities will generally assist with care costs where the individual has less than £23,250 in assets, while those with assets in excess of this amount may still qualify for help, depending on their circumstances. The value of a person’s home may count towards the value of their assets for these purposes but will not do so in all circumstances.

However, if the individual primarily needs health care, rather than personal or social care, then these costs should be met by the NHS. Unfortunately, many people do not receive this fully funded continuing care because they have been wrongly assessed by the NHS, largely because deciding whether someone is eligible to have their care fees paid can be highly subjective.

Until 1 October this year, it was possible to claim back wrongly paid care fees dating back to April 2004. Although the rules have now changed, it is still possible to make a retrospective claim for the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. Claims relating to this period must be registered with the NHS by 21 March 2013.

Even if an individual is not entitled to NHS funding, they may still have been incorrectly assessed by their local authority, meaning there is still scope for a claim for any fees wrongly paid.

With the final deadline for registering claims for reimbursement from the NHS just months away, anyone who believes they have a claim should act sooner, rather than later. At Palmers, we are highly experienced in all areas of law affecting elderly clients, including claims for wrongly paid care home fees.

If you have a relative who is about to enter care then it is sensible to seek advice on the funding issues at the earliest possible opportunity in order to avoid any problems further down the line.

To find out how we can help you, please contact us on 01268 240000.

Lee McClellan is a partner at Palmers Solicitors, specialising in advising clients in disputes with the NHS and local authorities over the funding of residential and nursing care.