A Fermanagh woman has spoken about her shock after it was revealed that she and her family would have to pay over £1,000 a year to a private care home in Enniskillen in order to secure a place for her brother at the home.

The woman, who does not want to be named, stated that she has been told that a “third party contribution” will have to be made in order to secure her brother an ongoing place in the home.

“I really could not believe it. I didn’t know this happened at all. It feels like a nasty little secret that they don’t want you to know about. It is going to be very difficult for us as a family. It is £20 a week, so over £1000 a year and that is a lot of money to find,” she said.

A number of care homes in Enniskillen were contacted as to their policy on “third part contributions” with only Milverne in Mill Street responding to the query:

A spokesperson for Milverne stated:

“I can confirm that as is the case with many private nursing homes across Northern Ireland, a third party top up applies in Millverne care home. Since it’s introduction the contribution is the same for every resident.”

For those residing in care homes in Fermanagh, the Western Health and Social Care Trust works out how much they have to contribute to their care. This is done by an assessment of their finances including savings, investments and any homes you may own.

Depending on this assessment the Trust will pay a proportion of your care. However, it has now emerged that regardless of this assessment that “family or friends” of a resident will have to make a “third party contribution” payment.

The NI Direct website has the following paragraph on their website regarding these extra payments:

“You can choose a home that is more expensive than your local Trust usually pays for a person with your assessed needs. But you need to pay the difference. If the Trust can suggest a place that meets your needs but you want to move into a more expensive home, you can ask a relative or friend to pay the extra.”

“This is called a ‘third party contribution’. You will not be able to pay this yourself as you will have been financially assessed to pay what you can afford. If the local Trust cannot suggest a place that meets your needs in your area, they must pay more than their usual amount towards your care.”

The Trust area stretches as far as Londonderry and in a story this paper covered in December 2018 the family of Eamon McGullion, who was the last patient to leave Drumclay care home, were initially told by the Trust that Mr. McGullion could have a place in a nursing home in Londonderry.

The woman who contacted the Impartial Reporter about her brother this week said that she feels very angry by the whole system:

“I spoke to the Alzheimer’s society, because my brother has Alzheimer’s, and they told me to move him away from his family would be a violation of Article Eight of the Human Rights Act that says he is entitled to family life. I am just so angry about it all. He is in hospital now, and it is clear that he is taking up a bed and that the hospital want him out. But he needs the correct care in the correct environment. He has been assessed for what care he needs and we have been told residential care is sufficient but it is clear to me and everyone else, and indeed consultants I have spoken to, that he needs nursing care,” the woman stated.

In care homes there are varying levels of care for individual residents. Nursing care is a great cost than residential care . On the NI Direct website it states:

“If you live in a nursing home and have assessed nursing needs, the local Trust will pay £100 a week towards the cost of the nursing. If your assessment indicates that your primary need is for health care, your Trust will pay for all your care. This is called ‘continuing health care”.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust was contacted about this story but at the time of going to press had not responded to the queries.