Concern over proposed changes to elderly home care cost

Woman helping an elderly man
Image caption People will now not have to sell their homes to pay for care

Elderly people in Somerset may be forced into care homes after councillors voted in favour of ending a subsidy to help pay for care at home.

Currently anyone who receives care at home pays £355 a week. If it costs more, the council pays the rest.

This is now set to be scrapped as the Conservative-controlled council tries to claw back a £500,000 overspend.

Leader of the opposition, Lib Dem Jill Shortland, said being away from home may inhibit people's recovery.

She said if people could not afford the full cost of their care at home, then they would be forced into a care home.

Ms Shortland added she was concerned the lack of care home places in some rural areas of the county would see people moving miles away, which would make it very difficult for their relatives to visit them.

Trigger point

But Miriam Maddison, the director of community services at Somerset County Council said the policy "would not force elderly people out of their homes against their will".

She said: "It allows us the opportunity to try and set more realistic expectations to the public about what we can do with the limited amount of money and a growing amount of care."

At the cabinet meeting, councillors also agreed people would not have to sell their homes to pay for their home care.

Instead the council can claim the money back after the person sells the property or has died but people will now have to pay legal fees of £350 to set this up.

Councillors also agreed that 23 hours of care should become a trigger point over whether or not the person should remain at home.

These measures will now be put to a vote at a full council meeting in November.

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