If a care home closes, it can be distressing for those who live there. But what are your rights if your parent or relative is in a care home that’s closing down?
What happens if a care home closes?
Care homes can close down for a range of reasons. It can be because the company that owns them has gone bust. In some cases, it’s because the care home is unsafe. What happens will depend on whether or not the local authority is paying part or all of the person’s fees and whether the closure of the home is planned or unplanned.
SAVVY TIP: If a care home provider goes into administration, that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of the care homes will close. Some or all of the care homes may be sold to another company. In the case of Four Seasons, for example, two of its holding companies went into administration, but the companies that actually run its 320 care homes are still operating. The company says that nothing should change in the short term.
If the care home closes suddenly
If the care home provider goes bust, or there’s another reason why the care home closes at short notice, the local authority must make sure that everyone living there has somewhere else to go.
This duty of care applies whether you are paying your care fees yourself or whether the council is paying some or all of them. It could mean that the council:
- Provides information about care homes in the area. This is only an option if the person in the care home has relatives who are able to help find a place in an alternative care home.
- Arranges for the resident to be transferred to another care home in the area. If the council does this, the new care home should be able to provide similar care. The council shouldn’t, for example, transfer someone with dementia to a care home that does not have the expertise or facilities to accept people with dementia.
SAVVY TIP: If the person in the care home is getting all their care fees paid through NHS continuing care, then it’s the NHS’s job to find an alternative place for them.
If the care home closure is planned
In some cases, the council will know weeks or months in advance that a particular care home is going to close. As before, the council has responsibility for finding the resident a place in a suitable care home.
SAVVY TIP: The new care home should not be miles further away from family and friends and should be able to provide the care and facilities needed.
If you want to choose another care home for yourself or your relative, the council should continue to provide funding on the same basis as long as the new home doesn’t cost more than the previous one. If it is more expensive, relatives of the person who needs care may be asked to pay a ‘third party top-up’.
SAVVY TIP: A third party top-up is money that relatives will be asked to pay if a care home’s fees are above the amounts that the council will pay. The person who’s in the care home can’t pay these fees (even if they have the money to do so). You can read more about third party top-ups for care home fees in my article.
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