A care home’s decision to charge residents £250 if they require a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards authorisation has caused controversy, with a leading expert in the field lodging a complaint with the CQC over the move.
The regulator investigated the charging policy at Southfield House, a residential home in Woodford, Stockport, but told Community Care it found the information provided by the home to residents about the fees met the rules concerning registered providers charging for care.
The home, which only works with self-funders, adds an “extra charge” of £250 to residents’ bills if a DoLS authorisation is needed, followed by an £125 annual renewal fee.
Where a resident appears likely to become deprived of their liberty, a care home must submit an application to the local authority requesting an assessment.
The home’s directors said its charges were “fair and competitive” and designed to cover extra costs incurred by individual residents.
Steven Richards, a leading DoLS trainer with Edge Training, wrote to the CQC expressing concern over the £250 charge.
He said: “I’m shocked by the whole idea that you could be a vulnerable adult who lacks capacity and be charged for being deprived of your liberty. The figure they’ve come up with would appear to have no correlation to the burden on a care home when an authorisation is requested.
“I approached the CQC directly to inform them and to see what action they could take under their existing statutory powers. I have since then approached the Law Commission to see what they could do to prevent this re-occurring in any new DoLS legislation.”
The Law Commission is currently reviewing the law in this area for the government and will present its final report to ministers in coming months.
A spokesman for Southfield House said the issues raised about the DoLS charging policy had been “fully discussed” with CQC.
He said: “All our charges are transparent and advertised. All items of expense with regard to care and accommodation are taken into account when setting our fees. We believe that items of cost that are incurred individually should not be encompassed within our standard fees. Doing so would be expecting other residents unfairly to subsidise individuals.
“Residents requiring a DoLS have an appointed advocate or attorney with whom all matters of care and finance are discussed on an ongoing basis.
“The social care sector in general is currently under huge financial pressure. All tasks from care to admin to facility carry a cost and the introduction of additional requirements bring with it additional cost. The job has to be done.”