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Top-up fees for care homes

What are ‘standard rates’ and ‘top-up’ care home fees?

Your loved one has had an assessment of care needs which concludes they need to move into a care home for a greater level of support. The local authority means test has been completed and you are told they are entitled to local authority funding for care.

You are then likely to be told the ‘standard rate’ or ‘usual cost’ for care home fees. This is the amount of money your local authority is prepared to pay for a care home. The local authority may also give you a list of preferred care homes whose fees fall within their standard rates.

What happens if the home of my choice costs more than the ‘standard rate’?

This situation is very common. Some groups of people are particularly likely to choose homes with fees above the standard rates:

  • If you wish to find a care home in another county in order to be close to family and in that county, fees are more expensive than the one in which you currently reside
  • If you have specific cultural needs, for example, you wish to live in a home for people from the same ethnic or religious group as you
  • You need to find a care home which provides specialist services eg for visual impairment or dementia

Some people simply find the care home they like has higher fees than their local authority standard rate.

Can I ask my local authority to increase its ‘standard rate’?

You can certainly challenge your local authority about the rate they are prepared to pay. It is important that you start with your care assessment and care plan. Is it possible to meet the objectives of your care plan within the ‘standard rate’ your local authority are offering?

Local authorities have been told by the government they should not place an ‘arbitrary ceiling’ on care home funding which prevents people from exercising genuine choice of care homes.

Guidance for local authorities also states that ‘individual needs’ are not only practical, day-to-day needs, but include social, psychological and emotional needs. Therefore moving to a home in a more expensive area to be close to relatives should be taken into consideration.

However, in practice the majority of people find it extremely difficult to persuade their local authority to increase their standard rate. A different approach where there is a greater degree of flexibility is for Carehome Selection to negotiate top-up fees with the care home on your behalf.

How does Carehome Selection negotiate top-up care home fees?

We regularly negotiate top-up fees on our client’s behalf and achieve excellent results. These results are achieved because we have been working in this sector for fifteen years – we know how to negotiate with care homes and work through a compromise which is affordable for our client and brings a placement for the care home. Clients find it very difficult to negotiate directly with a care home – you want to focus on care quality issues and the well being of your relative. We can broker on your behalf and achieve very substantial savings in top-up fees. In order to negotiate on your behalf, we need to be involved in helping you to contact care homes from the start of the process. Our ability to negotiate for you is lost if you are already in contact with an individual care home.

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