by OneTruePearl 08th February 2011
I've booked Mum and Auntie into a nice Council-run care home up the road for two weeks in August so that my husband, Mother in law, son and I can go to Yorkshire for a couple of weeks. We used the same care home last year and it was great. In fact when she came home Mum was so enthusiastic about their "holiday" that I asked her if she'd rather be there than with us!
Last year it cost us £75.35 per person per week, so just over £300 for the two of them for the two weeks. It was a flat rate, about the same as the higher rate of Attendance Allowance. This year, after we booked, Social Services told us that it might cost more this year. How much? I asked. I don't know said the Social Worker.
I spent quite a lot of time finding out what that could mean and eventually discovered the Council are proposing to means test it. They'll work out what you can afford for care per week and that's what they'll charge you. Sounds reasonable? Well, no. First of all, the maximum charge isn't their contract rate of £375, it's a theoretical figure of £700. Secondly, they intend to charge us what we can afford 52 weeks of the year and we're only accessing services for two weeks. If it goes through it will cost us £2,800. That's more than three times as much as our holiday cottage.
That's assuming of course that we'll still be entitled to use the Council's care home at all. Mum is self-funding and Auntie is borderline. Our Council doesn't normally assist people who are self funding at all: when Auntie moved here I had to make a fuss even to get a care-needs assessment for her. If we don't qualify for a Council sponsored place we won't be able to go there since the Council take all the non-nursing beds and the home doesn't use its nursing beds for respite.
At the moment the Council are consulting over their new proposals. Mum and Auntie were sent the Consultation and have done a response and I sent one too. I've told the carers I know about it, encouraged them to call the Council but they just say if it costs more they won't bother with respite care.
What annoys me is that the Council say it isn't right for us to sponge on the Council Tax payer. It sounds fair at first but then I start thinking about some of my friends who've sent their children to the local comprehensive. There's the barrister (four kids) who earns over £80,000 a year, the HR Director of a business employing 20,000 (three kids) and the Managing Director whose wife also works full time as a Chartered Accountant (just the two kids). We don't ask them to pay for their children's education. There'd be an outcry if we did.
I believe in the Big Society. That's why I gave up my job to look after Mum. That's why I took Auntie in when she was told she'd got to give up her flat and go into a home. But give me a break! Looking after two ladies in their 90s who aren't all that "with it" 24/7 is a bit challenging. Anyway every working person is entitled to four weeks paid holiday a year. I just want two.
The consultation finishes soon and the vote takes place in April. We'll be told the outcome in July. It's a bit late to make alternative arrangements!