Care Crisis: One of Britain’s largest care home groups goes into administration
After reports of debts in the region of £540m at the end of December 2017, Four Seasons Health Care has gone into administration.
Four Seasons is one of Britain’s largest care home groups. It owns 322 residential and nursing care homes, cares for around 17,000 residents and employs over 20,000 staff.
Their financial difficulties have been attributed, in part, to the low rates that local authorities pay for care fees and rising costs.
Four Seasons, and other care providers, have repeatedly warned that the long-term stability for care providers was at crisis point. The Care Quality Commission, regulators of health and social care in England, warned 84 local authorities last year that there could be disruption to care home services after Allied Healthcare, who care for 13,000 individuals, faced financial difficulties.
Since 1997, the government has reviewed social care and how it is funded, but proposals have been dropped repeatedly with promises of better reforms to come. The most recent review, the Social Care Green Paper announced in the March 2017 Budget Statement, has been pushed back repeatedly whilst government focuses on other matters, including Brexit, which brings its own issues to the care sector such as staffing.
Options available if you are affected by Four Seasons care provision
Whilst we wait for the government to focus on the Social Care Crisis, what can individuals in receipt of care and their families do?
Residents in Four Seasons Care Homes are being assured not to panic. The care that they are receiving will not be impacted immediately but if their care home is ultimately earmarked for closure then a new care home will need to be found for them.
If a person’s care is funded by the local authority (usually when their capital is below £23,250), the local authority will be responsible for finding the new accommodation.
If a person pays for their own care, often referred to as a “self-funder”, then finding a new care home will be down to the resident or their families.
In uncertain times like these, it’s well worth putting Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place.
The value of Lasting Powers of Attorney
There are two types of LPAs – one for financial affairs and one for health and welfare decisions. The former allows you to legally appoint people that you trust to help you to manage your finances, including making arrangements for the payment of your care, negotiating care contracts etc
The health and welfare LPA lets you appoint people you trust to step in and make medical and welfare decisions for you if you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, for example if you are unconscious or have advanced dementia. This might include making decisions about where you live and the type of care that you receive. Whilst decision makers (e.g. social workers, care providers, GPs and medical practitioners) should try to consult with friends and family before making a decision for someone who lacks capacity, having an LPA in place gives the views of those you know and trust much greater standing. On occasion, we hear of family members complaining that without an LPA in place they have felt left out of the decision making process altogether and wishing they had known that they could have put these important documents in place earlier to help in these situations.
LPAs are legal documents that must register with the Office of the Public Guardian before they are valid. The registration process takes at least 8-10 weeks and so it will usually take between 3 to 5 months to put in place so it is important to prepare and register LPAs in advance so that they are ready to be used in an emergency situation.
For more information on Lasting Powers of Attorney, Paying for Care or other matters that affect people in Later Life, contact Amanda Attrell, Head of Rix & Kay’s Later Life Team.
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