Care home fees

An old friend has been phoning me a lot lately as her elderly Mum has had a bad fall. The long and short of it is, after several weeks in a rehab hospital they have said that she needs full care now and could not manage on her own.

She is totally shocked to find that her Mum is being moved to a home with a “needs improvement” CQC rating and that they have no choice as she is being funded by social services.

The thing is, many years ago (probably 20) she got her Mum to sell her house and move into a housing association home. She gave her daughter, and her grandchildren very large amounts of money to help them out and is now obviously below the threshold so will get full funding but has no choice where she goes.

I know I often complain about how much my Mum had to pay out in care home fees and had to sell her house but my OH and I talked about this tonight and we are so glad that we were able to choose the best home for Mum and the care she got was wonderful.

Penny, I think it’s shocking that social care want to send your friend’s Mum to a care home that requires improvement. Page 25 offers advice about this

Your Mum living out her days with great care, was money well spent. Unfair system though on those with money and those without.


Yes it is. The whole issue needs a complete overhaul.

Those who have saved come out of it badly and end up subsidising others by 34%.

The social worker mentioned a couple of other homes but they were very far away and difficult to get to.

Hello, Penny. Let me adjust the wording slightly, replace some pronouns and make sure I have understood absolutely correctly.

Many years ago your friend persuaded her Mum to sell her house and move into a housing association home. Your friend’s Mum gave your friend and your friend’s children very large amounts of money to help them out.

Have I got that right? Or does your friend have a sister who benefited while your friend did not? That would put a different slant on things.

Was the housing association home a sheltered accommodation or something else specifically designed for people with special needs?

Your friend will need to consider how much responsibility she has for past decisions and actions, and how she can help with the present situation, which seems to be the result of playing the social services system. She could sell her own house, like she persuaded her Mum to, thereby raising funds to pay for her Mum’s care and exercise more choice. I suggest refer your friend to Melly’s useful link.

The matter of the CQC “needs improvement” rating is worthy of some discussion of its own. There is actually a rating below “needs improvement”, i.e. “inadequate”. You can read more about ratings here:

Some years ago a relative of mine was admitted (personal funding) to a care home whose rating was “needs improvement” on one criterion. But the home had the right atmosphere and the staff were friendly and helpful. In due course the home was re-assessed and received a “good” rating on all criteria. Subsequently the care home management invoked an ambitious plan to rearrange the home so that one wing could be devoted for residents with special needs. Unfortunately this caused operational difficulties and the home was given a “needs improvement” rating on the next inspection. The staff there have worked like trojans during the pandemic and addressed the issues and once again the CQC has awarded a “good” rating. So you see, a lower rating is not necessarily bad; there is usually scope for the home to improve on its deficiencies.

I can also mention that this home has a very good record of keeping COVID-19 at bay, whereas a home I know have had tragically 16 resident deaths due to COVID, even though it was “good” on all criteria.

I have visited people in other care homes. In one, a modern, purpose-designed building, I visited two friends. It was slick and well organised but a bit “clinical”. It was right for those friends I visited but would not have been for my relative. In yet another care home I visited another relative (now sadly deceased). This was a converted Victorian mansion, and I never felt comfortable in my visits; there was poor separation of areas and I could rarely find a quiet spot in which to talk to my relative. We were never allowed to meet in her private room. If it had have been my decision, I would have been reluctant to place my relative there, possibly for the wrong reasons. Yet that home was constantly rated CQC “good”.

Your friend will probably need to accept whatever Social Services provide, for the present. It is better than remaining in a rehab unit, which is more geared to healing than the social aspects or residential care. Bear in mind that Social Services have limited budgets, also that placement depends largely on availability. Most care homes have waiting lists.

We should be grateful for the Care Quality Commission for its frequent inspections, which drive high standards. Things are probably not as bad as they seem to the uninitiated, and it could well turn out to be quite suitable for your friend’s Mum.

I can certainly identify with your own situation where your Mum kept her house till the time when she needed to go into care, thereby giving more ability to exercise choice. Lessons to be learned, maybe? With all considered, I don’t think your Mum came out of it so badly

You are correct Denis. My friend is an only child and her Mother gave her and her grandchildren large sums of money when she sold her house and went into a housing association property.

I am satisfied I did the best for my Mum because her home was excellent. Every time they get a CQC inspection they receive a “Good” rating but myself and other families with parents living there reckon it should be “outstanding.” My Mum spent several months in another home with rickety furniture, stingy meals, uninterested staff and very poor management and that came out as “good” too and there really is no comparison.

Thanks for your reply, Penny. I think that the ratings of care homes are largely the result of a “box ticking” exercise. In my last post I compared three care homes. I also imagined myself living in each of them, if the time should come. The one I would not have fancied was the converted Victorian mansion, even though that got consistently good ratings. The other two sometimes fell to “needs improvement”, but recovered. And it is always up to the individual who is going to reside there. For that reason it is a good idea to check out various care homes and even arrange a temporary residence.

After we were very disappointed with the first home Denis, I visited 14 over a few weeks. What an experience that was!!

My mistake with the first home was thinking because it was really clean it was good. Wrong! Once they got me to sign a contract and pay by DD they couldn’t have cared less about Mum. Totally uninterested. Several of the staff were spiteful to the old people and it was just a nasty atmosphere. I found out I knew the cook there and she told me she had to use the cheapest budget supermarket foods like wafer thin cheap bread, slippery ham, mini buns which were 99p for 20. Almost colourless orange juice it was that cheap. She asked whether she could buy fresh veg from a local roadside stall and was told it was too expensive. Same with local eggs and bacon.

I have two friends whose Mums are moving into care homes this week and I am truly glad I am not in their shoes.

Qutoing from Shakespeare: “All that glisters is not gold.” You were very persistent in your subsequent “shopping around”, but it paid off and your Mum was well settled.