I am so angry - care costs need some advice

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Flake, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222
    Need some advice - my Mum has been having care at home for the past year. She is now in residential care after having a fall and the Carer leaving her on the floor. Many of her care visits were shortened and sometimes missed and she has been charged for them. I have spent a considerable amount of time and listed all missed and shortened visits which equates to about £450. (12 pages) Some visits have been charged when my Mum was in Hospital, or if I cancelled due to an appointment. Social Services have now told me that the bill has to be paid as a 30 minute visit is chargeable whether it is completed or not. How can this be? I never signed any contract starting this. I am now arguing the point but my question is how can I get fair treatment for my Mum and pay for what visits she had and not what they have charged for. :mad: Thank you in advance xx
     
  2. Sam Luvit

    Sam Luvit Registered User

    Oct 19, 2016
    5,484
    East Sussex
    I've had some office dealings with SS & can only say, you have to read the fine print of any agreement.

    There will be a minimum cancellation period, usually 48hrs, if you didn't give enough notice, the appointment is chargeable even though they didn't go

    On the shortened visits, they often charge for 30 minutes, to include travel time, so a 30 minute charge period is often 25 or even 20 minutes. You have to complain at the time, they don't tend to like going back & reducing a charge, more going forward keeping the correct period of visit

    Charging while she was in hospital, if you notified them seems a little harsh, unless your contract was for xxx time per week for a period of xxx weeks, then it's would make it impossible to cancel a visit

    Sorry I can't add much more, but I do understand your frustration
     
  3. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222


    Thank you. I never signed a contract. I have spoken to the care agency in the past and they have said they send in their time sheets and the Council submit the bill. They have always been aware when I have taken my Mum to appointments or when she has been in Hospital. Some visits have been 10 minutes most 20 minutes. Those that have overrun I have taken into account. The shortages amount to 48 hours and that equates to alot of money. Im so cross for my Mum - its not her fault that she cant complain :(
     
  4. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,958
    As I understand it, the person who signed the contract is normally liable to pay for services / goods supplied under that contract (except where they're acting as the legally authorised agent for the individual or a corporate body benefiting from the services or goods. A third party isn't.

    I think before you do anything else you need to find out how the contract was set up, who agreed to take responsibility for payment and whether correct administrative / legal procedures were followed. You couldn't and shouldn't pay the bill from your Mum's bank account or your own until you know whose financial responsibility the bill is.

    So who signed the original contract, please? Was it your Mum - and was she legally competent to sign any contract on the date when the contract was signed?

    If it wasn't your Mum or she wasn't legally competent to act at the time, was the signer a person legally authorised to act on behalf of your Mum (eg someone holding Power of Attorney) and to pay out her money on services / goods she needs? Was it a well-meaning relative who didn't understand correct procedure? Was it a Social Services employee who also didn't understand correct procedure (or may be misapplying it in your Mum's case)?

    I'd suggest you ask for the back story and for copies of all the relevant documents before you tackle the issue of whether the visits themselves were cuts so short as to merit your Mum receiving a "discount". Good luck!
     
  5. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222

    I hold POA and do not remember signing anything! It was never discussed that a 30 minute visit could mean whatever time they wanted. I will ask for a copy contract. I appreciate that care can be a difficult role especially when you have no time to travel and I have made allowances through the time of their support. I just object that 1.5 hours a day has been, on many days cut to under an hour, and my Mum has been left with a wet bed, no personal care, sat in dirty clothes and so on. I will not pay for total missed visits and those that I have done myself. Grrr :mad:
     
  6. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,958
    Procedurally this seems odd and sloppy. If the care agency are submitting their time sheets to the Council and not to you, it suggests the agency feel the Council is their customer.

    Have you signed a contract with the Council saying your Mum will pay for the services their agent (the care agency) is supplying? If so, what does the contract actually say?

    The Council might argue that you paying their bills on demand has created a de facto contract between you and the Council. I doubt whether they'd be able to make their argument stick if they haven't any paperwork to show the exact nature of you and their obligations.
     
  7. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    5,069
    Female
    Chester
    I understand that contract law doesn't always need a contract to be signed, by accepting and using a service the contract becomes enforceable in many cases. So lack of a signed contract will not mean the service user isn't liable.

    However - if they are being paid for half an hour and they only turned up for 20 mins, then I think you only have to pay this much. If they didn't turn up, then you certainly shouldn't be charged.

    If you are required to give notice before a cancelled appt then you are also due to pay I would anticipate, so for appts and hospital stay you may be on a sticky wicket.

    Ultimately whilst the money involved is a good sum, it is significantly less than one week in a care home, so in the grand scheme of things, please don't make yourself ill fighting it.
     
  8. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222

    Its a matter of principal and yes you are right, so I wont make myself ill. I always gave notice about appointments. On occasions I would get a call to say that a Care visit wouldnt happen and could I cover it - that is my objection. I am happy to pay for what my Mum had. I expect she will even get charged for the visit when the Carer left her on the floor! :mad:
     
  9. Sam Luvit

    Sam Luvit Registered User

    Oct 19, 2016
    5,484
    East Sussex
    If SS have said care is required & then supply it, then they pass the care onto their preferred care agency, the care agency accept the contract & provide the care

    The care agency have a contract with SS, and are paid by SS on submission of time sheets

    JM is right, you don't need to have signed a contract, by accepting the first hour of care in this way, the contract is deemed as signed.

    The care agency bill SS on time sheets, if the time sheets are wrong, they are erroneous in their billing

    You can do two things

    1. Argue with the care agency about specific calls
    I'd start with the ones they said they could not attend & you would need to cover
    Get those refunded.
    Then move on to the cancelled with sufficient notice
    Get those refunded
    Then query being charged for a visit when your mum was left on the floor, but you may well get told, she refused help & there was nothing they could do. Sorry, but that is likely
    Then attack the short call visits
    This is when you move to SS & raise the query with them

    2. Ask SS their definition of a 30 minute call, how long they would expect or accept the call to last
    Provide them with a list of the dates & times of calls & length of time they attended
    You will need some sort of proof

    No matter how cross you are, be polite & factual & be very clear. Either get someone else to proof read your letter ( it will be plural :( ), or failing that read it aloud the next day

    Depending on how many other complaints / queries SS have received about this care agency, will affect the outcome

    If you are a lone voice, in amongst thousands of compliments, you won't get far, if there have been many, you mightget somewhere

    As said by JM, it may seem like a lot of money, but don't tie yourself up in knots over it, even if you do feel it's the principle
     
  10. NatB123

    NatB123 Registered User

    Aug 2, 2016
    57
    Nottingham
    Hi Flake,

    I'm not sure if what I'm about to tell you will help or not but I am in a similar situation so thought I would tell you what is happening with me. The main difference is that my Nan is a self funder so we did not get help from SS to get carers in.

    I have had massive problems with missed visits, visits that were only 5/10 minutes long and them charging for 30 minutes. When I've questioned it they have redone the invoices with only the ones I pointed out were incorrect and when they have visited I've had issues with how they provided care (but that is another story!)

    I have ended up asking for a copy of every single note they wrote about my Nan, then cross referencing them against the Invoices that they sent through to her to work out how much they have overcharged by (they've also lost 20 days worth of notes)

    I have put a stop to them coming and have put in a formal complaint, they never provided me with their complaints procedure so I wrote them a 6 page letter. I then also forward this to the CQC to make them aware of the issues and am currently waiting to hear back from the care company. I was told by the CQC that I had to allow the carers 28 days to reply or if they replied before this and I was not happy before I could take it to the Local Government Ombudsman. I have 7 days until I can do that as the carers have chosen to ignore my complaint!

    Anyway, I feel as though I am rambling on....what I'm trying to say is that I never signed a contract with this care company but did arrange for them to come in and set up the standing order for payment. But they did provide their charges, cancellation procedure etc in writing. They said in theirs that anything under 15 minutes was Fee A anything under 30 minutes was Fee B etc. So I could then use this to tell them that they had overcharged on a number of occasions.
     
  11. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222

    Thank you.... I took the advice of SS and used a Care Agency that they recommended and asked them to manage the billing as I thought I would have some protection if I had any issues. When the first instance of shortened visits came to light I asked the then Social Worker to get all contact logs and I would go through each one - that never happened. I submitted 12 pages of A4 typed visit times (took me a long time to do) and it appears they have been ignored. I think I will contact the Care Agency and ask as you have done and see what happens. I did threaten before to take the matter to the CQC so maybe I will follow that up too. I just think that if this is happening to my Mum how many other people out there are paying for visits they havent had and are not querying it.? - It must amount to £1000's of overcharges and is so wrong. :mad:
     
  12. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222

    Thank you so much. I will take your advice and follow it up. I did send a very curt email to the Councils finance department and have not had a reply as yet. The Social Worker originally involved is on annual leave - typical :( x
     
  13. Sam Luvit

    Sam Luvit Registered User

    Oct 19, 2016
    5,484
    East Sussex
    I know you are frustrated, but take a deep breath, then start again

    This will be a long, very slow process, the more delays you get, the more likely you are to give up

    Take it a step at a time. Win battle one, then move on to the next battle. It is likely that there will come a point at which hands are thrown in the air & you get an offer, if you can face sticking it out that long

    In one company, I had a Manager who sailed close to the wind on charges, with me sorting the queries that demanded higher input. She didn't get it. I had to build bridges with clients & sort the mess. She eventually went too far & shall we say, moved on :rolleyes:

    If you can go out, scream, kick stones, punch a ball, then having calmed down, try to get someone to listen, you will get a better result

    From the receiving end of complaints & from trying to get help from other companies, I can say, hand on heart, that the calm, non aggressive, get the best results

    "I know something has gone wrong, I wonder if you can help me understand ...." Gets a lot further than venting anger & accusations of incompetence, even if that's what you feel

    I hope you get at least some of what you want, but I'd be doubtful of you getting it all, maybe look at 50% as a result & any more as a bonus, so you feel you have still won, if you get somewhere, so you don't spend hours & emotions & still feel frustrated

    Don't forget to breath :)
     
  14. dottyd

    dottyd Registered User

    Jan 22, 2011
    1,066
    n.e.
    Only if more people complain will standards improve.

    Good luck.
    I'd do exactly the same.
    I found a private carer for my mum
     
  15. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    1,142
    Has your mother had a Financial Assessment?
    If her own savings are less than £14k then she shouldn't be paying.
    Over £24K she would be "self funding" and would have no SS input.

    Bod
     
  16. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    222
    Yes she had a financial assessment a couple of years ago and has too much savings so yes she has to pay. but I let it be managed through SS and the Council send an account out to my Mum. I thought it would be managed better through SS. They want to do another FA but I have said her savings are too high. The start of another week so I am expecting the battle to continue :) x
     
  17. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    1,142
    Letting others have control of the money, means you had no say in how it was spent.
    Unless you complained, each and every time, and can show lack of control, at the time. You are on a hiding to nothing.
    Take financial control, then all is in your hands.

    Bod
     
  18. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    Can I ask
    1)how often you are settling the bill
    2) over how long have you been charged £450 over what you think you owe?
    3) How are you working out start/end times- from their notes or yours?
    4) what does it say in the contract about cancelling calls?
     
  19. oilovlam

    oilovlam Registered User

    Aug 2, 2015
    388
    South East
    Flake, well done for taking them on. Most families wouldn't want the hassle and pay up blindly. If you assume that your case is not out of the ordinary then they are overcharging the community by thousands of pounds.

    My agency have to be informed well in advance, 48 hours rings a bell, otherwise they charge. I think on emergency hospital admission they are more flexible.

    Some carers are out the door (or want to be) after 15-20 minutes. I'm there to stop them....someone with dementia would be easily exploited.

    The carers are supposed to log in using a tag at our home. They never do....the company insists that this is the procedure and tell them they must use the tag....they still don't use the tag. I think the tag logs the exact time of the visit...if they don't use the tag then they can sort of fiddle the system (that's what I think anyway).

    Some carers don't seem to care about time...I have to remind them and almost push them out the door. Others have their coat on very quickly.

    I find I also have to record when they arrive...otherwise I'm left wondering...how long did they stay. But ultimately if they have done the basics, I'm happy for them to go 5 minutes early.

    Part of the issue is that the agency puts the carers under pressure timewise. When they are short staffed, I get carers who say that they haven't been given any breaks (unlawful I suggested to them) and some who were expected to drive half way across the county for the next visit.

    Flake, well done for taking a stand.
     
  20. carpe diem

    carpe diem Registered User

    Nov 16, 2011
    434
    Bristol
    Hi I've been in very similar circumstances and spent a lot of time and energy complaining about short and missed visits but I came to realise that ultimately it's not worth the stress.
    Especially with Alzheimers its better to accept the things you can't change have the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
    It's very difficult having access and spending someone else's money but ultimately would your mum want you to stress over this now when in all likelihood that money will get gobbled up in care costs later anyway.
    I've also found that having monitors and being ultra polite to the agency works far better than complaining. Also realise that this is a very underpaid industry so in the grand scheme of things maybe you've not really been overcharged.
    Best wishes x
     

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