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Elderly who sold homes to pay for care could claim back cash
A government blunder saw thousands of elderly people sell their homes to fund nursing home care which they should have received for free.
by Michelle McGagh on Aug 03, 2012 at 12:00
Thousands of elderly people forced to sell their homes to pay for care that they should have received for free could be eligible for compensation from the government.
Solicitor Farley Dwek, based in Manchester, estimates that as many as 100,000 pensioners who had to sell their homes to fund their nursing home fees should have had the costs covered by the NHS.
Mistakes made by the NHS meant thousands had to sell their properties over seven years between 2004 and 2011. Those affected were supposed to have their care and funding monitored by the NHS continuing healthcare scheme, which offers care over a long period for those suffering after an accident, illness or disability.
If a person has to go into a nursing home following a period in hospital then they meet the continuing healthcare criteria for funding, and the NHS will pay the fees, even if care is needed over a number of years. Owing to mistakes made by the health service, those who were supposed to be monitored under continuing health were not and were subsequently denied free care.
Deadline for claims
Although claims have been ongoing since 2004, the government has only just set a deadline for claims of 30 September 2012.
The Department of Health said only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ would claims be accepted after the deadline, and that it was necessary to set a time limit of 2004 on claims as it ‘becomes more difficult with the passage of time to properly evaluate people’s historical needs’.
Families of people who had to sell their homes between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2011 can claim for compensation, even if the elderly homeowner has died.
Don't be left out of pocket
Despite the large number of people who have grounds to make a claim for compensation, just 5,750 have done so.
Andrew Farley, partner at solicitors Farley Dwek, which is working on behalf of the families, said the average claim is £20,000, although they do not always receive the full amount claimed for.
‘With average weekly care home fees standing at between £500 and £700 and about half having to pay their own fees, even if the person is in care for just a few months the fees run into thousands.
‘We’ve seen some claims for hundreds of thousands, but the average claim period we’re dealing with is 31 months, so the average claim stands at about £20,000.’
Families forced into debt
Farley added that 90% of the cases are for people who have died, and 60% of the claims are being made by children on behalf of parents who have been in care. He said the cost of care had pushed some of the families into debt.
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