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The widespread media coverage condemning care home operators is
unjustified and unfair.

Care home operators do not force people to sell their homes to pay
for care; we simply provide a service. It is the lack of government
funding that results in people having to sell up in order to pay
for care home places.

Care home operators find it difficult to set fixed fees because
rates vary according to the degree of care that a resident needs
and the location and facilities of the home. A resident’s care
needs are assessed on an individual basis when they first come to
the home, but the level of care they require can change suddenly as
their condition progresses. This is why care home providers have to
reserve the right to increase costs – to meet increased dependency

It is true that those who self-fund pay a much more realistic rate
for care. But the kernel of the debate is not that self-funding
care home residents should pay less, but that councils must pay
more. It is not by choice that care home operators charge more to
self-funding customers, it is a consequence of councils using their
bulk purchasing power to demand places far below the true cost of

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that councils pay care
home operators up to £85 less a resident a week than it costs
to care for them.

Despite 70 per cent of care home residents being state-funded,
local authority fee increases have not adequately reflected the way
care home costs are rising as a result of increases in national
insurance contributions, the national minimum wage and charges for
inspections and checks by the Criminal Records Bureau. It is this
increase in operating costs – particularly staffing costs that
represent on average more than 60 per cent of the turnover in a
typical care home – that has pushed up fees.

Government needs to fund a fair and realistic rate for care and
invest in the care home sector to the same degree as it is
investing in the NHS.

Mark Ellerby is managing director of Bupa Care

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