A CARE home provider has been accused of ‘opportunistic profiteering’ after announcing a fee rise that will result in residents paying up to £500 extra a month.

The Care Concern Group, which has 44 homes in Scotland and specialises in dementia care, has announced a 9% rise in some homes.

The son of a 92-year-old woman in one of the firm’s Lanarkshire homes said the increase will mean her fees have risen by 19% in two years, taking her weekly payment to around £1648.08.

After taking into account local authority contributions, she will pay £1367, which he said was almost double the amount paid by those who care is council funded.

"These increases are being passed on mainly to those who are self-funding; many of whom are not wealthy people but often have modest amounts of savings, or where the value of their home has counted as part of their capital.

In a letter seen by the Herald the company writes that it has invested significantly in safeguards to protect residents from Covid-19 including dedicated visitor rooms, electronic thermometer equipment, additional staff and PPE and testing.

READ MORE: Concern over rise in care home residents forced to sign fee guarantee contracts

A review of adult social care, published last month, recommends that the Scottish Government should implement a significant uplift in personal and nursing contributions to better reflect the cost of healthcare in residential settings.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set up a National Care Service and remove non-residential health costs if her party is elected in May.

Criticising the rise by the care provider, Alzheimer Scotland said residents who had been cut off from loved ones for much of the pandemic had already paid a high cost “emotionally and physically”.

Jim Pearson, head of Policy and Research for the charity, said: “It is simply not fair that they are now being asked to pay substantial increases in care home fees which in some instances amount to several hundreds of pounds per month.

"These increases are being passed on mainly to those who are self-funding; many of whom are not wealthy people but often have modest amounts of savings, or where the value of their home has counted as part of their capital.

"Alzheimer Scotland are hearing examples of such increases in care home fees more regularly.

READ MORE: The three biggest preventable risk factors for dementia according to new study 

The elderly lady’s son said his mother had no complaints about her care but believed the rise was “excessive and unjustifiable”. 

She will receive £280 in local authority contributions for personal and nursing care, taking into account the Scottish Government’s 7.5% increase this year.

He said: “Having sold her flat in Lanark, she appreciates her responsibility to contribute to care costs, but feels the increases - applied and proposed by Care Concern - are excessive and unjustifiable.

“From May 2019, the weekly fees Mum pays will have increased from £1143 per week to a proposed £1367.48 (£1648.08 minus her free care allowance).

“I make this a 19.6% rise over 2 years, far in excess of inflation, wages, pensions, local authority increases. 

HeraldScotland:

“It’s hard to see it as anything but opportunistic profiteering - and an unfair tax on the elderly. 

“The current standard local authority rate is £740 - almost half what Mum’s being asked to pay. This difference in rates is unfairly punitive and highlights a lack of financial regulation.”

He said that until recently the care home his mother is resident in was advertising a weekly rate of £1581/week, which would increase to £1723.29 if fee rise is added.

He added:  “It is our understanding that the Scottish Government have provided “significant assistance” to help care providers meet additional costs associated with the Covid pandemic,

“Considerable support has also been provided by local businesses and voluntary organisations. All of this should enable the fee increase to be restricted to a more reasonable level.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon pledges to set up National Care Service is party elected to power 

A spokesman for the Care Concern Group said: “Every year, we review our charging structure to ensure we are able to continue offering residents the high-quality care they expect and deserve. 

 “This year, in addition to the usual factors, such as increases in the real living wage and general inflation, we have had to contend with the challenges presented by the pandemic.  

 “Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the care sector. We have had to significantly adapt our working practices and invest in new, specialist equipment to ensure we remain able to provide the support our residents need.  

 “Whilst we have received some very welcome financial assistance from the government to help with this, unfortunately the available funding does not cover everything we need to keep our residents safe and well.  

“We recognise this increase comes at a difficult time for many of our residents and their families.  

“However, we do believe that it is essential in order that we can continue to enhance the quality of care for all of our residents both now and in the future.”

HeraldScotland:

The Herald is backing Alzheimer Scotland's campaign for fairer care home nursing costs.