Care home charges face massive hike

​Care home residents in the Western Isles could soon be facing 40 per cent increases in charges if the Integrated Joint Board which links Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with the Western Isles NHS Board goes ahead with a policy of Full Cost Recovery.
The new Goathill care home which opened last year.The new Goathill care home which opened last year.
The new Goathill care home which opened last year.

​If the proposal proceeds, the new charges would “draw down the resident’s resources quicker than the current approach”. If it had been in operation this financial year, it would have brought additional income of almost three-quarters of a million pounds.

A recommendation to adopt the policy will go the Comhairle’e budget meeting on February 21st while a “full policy discussion” is set for the April series of Comhairle meetings. Although the proceeds form part of the IJB budget, the legal duty to set the rates rests with the Comhairle.

A recent meeting of the IJB was told by Finance Director Debbie Bozkurt: “With the deficit for 24/25 and beyond due to increase further than £3.9m in 23/24 and with no or very little general reserves left beyond 23/24 it is imperative that we look to recover full costs where possible”.

IJB members were also warned: “The increase in charges to address full cost recovery are anticipated to attract significant interest and challenge by those utilising services and the wider community.”

A separate report to councillors said; “Full cost recovery would result in a significant increase in charges for those already within services or for those considering residential care related services.

“The charging process would follow the same tariff-based calculations and thresholds for ceasing to charge but the deductions would be higher and would draw down the resident’s resources quicker than the current approach.”

Examples suggest that if the Full Cost Recovery policy had been operating in the current financial year, the standard charge for Comhairle-run care homes would be £1806 per week rather than £1287; housing at Bremner Court would cost £1172 as opposed to £762; and an individual room at Ardsheilach would be priced at £2517, which is up from £1845.

​The report explained: “People assessed as requiring a service can choose to have their ability to pay assessed, and the total of all charges will thereafter be restricted to the assessed threshold. They currently have the option to pay the full charge without assessment.

“Full cost is represented by all direct costs and apportionment of any attributable support costs incurred by the service. The charges set out in this report are the maximum charge for each service, and do not translate into the amount that all individuals will pay towards their care.”

The report adds: “The cost of delivering residential care through the local authority across the islands is significant. The anticipated value to the Comhairle/IJB of full cost recovery in 2023/24 would have been £728k in addition to the budget income estimate set in the approved charges."