Suffolk: County blasted as ugly over care support
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk is failing in its legal requirement to offer support and advice to the families of those in county council-funded care, according to a new report.
The new report from the charity Independent Age, says the council is failing to check that the relatives could make care home “top-up payments,” which are paid by some relatives to improve the quality of council-funded care.
Under a Freedom of Information Act request, the council admitted that it has only partial information about which families are making these payments.
Freedom of Information requests were sent to all 152 English councils (129 responded) and Independent Age has rated them as either good, bad or ugly depending on whether they are following their legal obligations in their overall monitoring of top ups.
Because Suffolk could only provide partial information about the top-up payments, it has been listed among the 57 “ugly “ councils by the charity.
Independent Age chief executive Janet Morrison said: “This report demonstrates a real concern that top-up fees are becoming a ‘secret subsidy’ by which some underfunded councils limit the amount they spend on care.
“But because so many councils are not keeping records of the payments, no one can be sure about the true level of top-up fees – or whether they are really voluntary.
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“Many families are being let down by councils because they are given no information, no support – and no choice.”
Suffolk cabinet member for adult care Dr Alan Murray said: “During the assessment session and the discussion that follows regarding a placement into a care home, the county council staff will advise the relatives of the care homes available and explain the fees and quality of provision for each.
“The relative can then express a choice of which home they require. If the home of their choice expects a third party contribution the implications of this will be explained and all assistance will be offered to the relatives to explore options for a care home that does not require a third party top up.
“However relatives do sometimes choose a home where a contribution is required and in this instance all relevant information will be provided and the financial implications will be explained in more detail.
“We understand that often family members are making these decisions during particularly difficult times and so we do our utmost to ensure they have all the information, advice and guidance available to them so they can make an informed decision.”