Somerset care home residents fear being forced out over price hike

Oaktree Court care home in Wellington, Somerset
Image caption Somerset County Council spends £575 per person per week on 13 beds at Oaktree Court

A number of elderly care home residents in Somerset could be forced to move within a month if their families are unable to pay an extra £125 per week.

Oaktree Court in Wellington has asked its 13 council-funded residents to pay the top-up fee, blaming costs which have "increased substantially".

In a letter seen by the BBC - dated 28 November - the home said the new fee would commence on 1 January 2015.

Care provider Majesticare has refused to comment despite repeated requests.

Somerset County Council funds 1,500 care home beds across the county and spends a weekly average of £575 per person for nursing care and £444 for more straightforward residential care.

'Avoid upheaval'

The authority said if the fee was a problem, affected residents would be offered relocation to "a suitable alternative care home" in nearby Tanuton.

Majesticare has written to the families to say the council grant has "not kept pace with inflation" and although the required supplement would not meet costs in full, it would allow a continuing service to be provided.

But Mary Pike, daughter of 93-year-old resident Margaret Jones, said it offered no leeway over the price.

"I don't have £500 per month. Ideally they should let those in the care home live their lives without any upheaval, and they can rethink the financial situation after that," she said.

"I appreciate they have to run to stay in credit, but I really don't think this is quite the way to be going about it. The business is one thing but it is also a care home."

She has been in contact with Labour councillor for Wellington, Andrew Govier, who said the notice given was "brutal".

"It seems such short notice that people are being asked, or told effectively, that if people don't come up with the money they'll have to leave," he said.

"A lot of these people are very elderly, very frail, and it really is an upsetting time for them and their families."

On its website, Majesticare says it operates "luxury care homes" and describes Oaktree Court as offering "a standard of life that's second to none".

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