CARE home residents who self fund are being tied into contracts which require them to pay the same level of contributions ‘long after’ savings and capital have been exhausted, charity leaders have warned.

Alzheimer Scotland said it was increasingly hearing of elderly people being asked to commit to lengthy timescales “beyond which they could reasonably expect” to continue paying the same amount.

The charity said it was also concerned that spouses and family members were being asked to act as guarantors in fee arrangements when only the individual receiving care is liable for costs.

Jim Pearson, head of policy for Alzheimer Scotland, said residents were also being forced to dip into savings which should be disregarded when contributions are being assessed.

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Mr Pearson said the charity hoped the issue would be addressed following the publication of a review of adult social care which calls for an overhaul of the  contributions system.

Alzheimer Scotland said it welcomed a recommendation that  nursing and personal care allowances are raised to a level that is more representative of the cost of care. Derek

Feeley’s recommendation would lead to around a doubling in the current amount.

Mr Pearson said: “The decision on how long someone self-funds for should be determined by the financial assessments.

“What is happening is some care homes are saying to people, we will only take you if you sign an agreement that you will be able to continue to self-fund for a particular period of time.

“That might a year, it might be three and we have heard of cases where it has been up to five years.

READ MORE: Self-funding care home residents to benefit from 'significantly' higher allowance 

“That clearly for some people is not feasible.  If they ask for someone to sign an agreement for one or two years, when in fact they would only be self-funding for eight or nine months, then that person will run out of money and they will use up all their capital.

“If for example, you have £60,000, the local authority should look at that and should be able to anticipate that perhaps within a year your capital will reach this limit of £28,500 - by which time you should receive public funding.

“What would normally happen then is that the local authority would re-do the assessment and step in and there would be a contract with the care home.”

Mr Pearson said it was an issue the charity had been aware of for some but said there was “no doubt” it was on the rise.

He added: “The way the financial assessment is carried out should at least ensure that people should not drop below the lower limit of £18,000. Anything under this amount should be disregarded.”

Alzheimer Scotland said it was also concerned that spouses and family members were being asked to act as guarantors in fee contracts. 

READ MORE: Scottish Government urged to scrap 'unfair' care home contributions systems 

Mr Pearson said: “A partner has no liability whatsoever to pay for this person’s care.  

“The family has no liability but what sometimes happens is that not only do care homes ask the resident to agree to pay the same amount for a fixed period of time, they will sometimes seek out a family member to sign as a guarantor that if the individual isn’t able to pay the fees they will do it.”

The charity encourages individuals and families to seek legal advice if they have any concerns or questions about care home contracts.

He said: “It’s really important to seek legal advice and more and more solicitors and law centres have branched into this area.”

The Herald is supporting Alzheimer Scotland’s campaign for fairer care home costs for people with advanced dementia.