What is the nursing home allowed to charge for?
One common source of frustration for people living in nursing homes or their families can be confusion about the additional charges put in place by nursing homes.
Nursing homes are allowed to charge for all therapeutic or recreational activities unless they are covered by the medical card. They are also allowed to charge for any personal services provided by the nursing home such as hair dressing, delivery of newspapers, etc.
HIQA Standards, published July 2016, require that the nursing home must agree a contract with the resident within one month of admission.
The nursing home’s management must communicate clearly with each resident, setting out the services that they receive and the required fees. You can only be charged for services as set out in the contract.
What is the difference between a Care Plan and a Contract of Care?
There is a difference between the contact of care and the care plan. The first is the legal document that outlines the legal relationship between whoever is responsible for paying the nursing home bill and the nursing home.
It should record all charges that will be payable by the bill payer and all services that will be provided by the nursing home. The resident may have requirements that will be met by the HSE through the medical card scheme and these will not be listed in the contract of care. As was stated above there should be no additional charges levied by the nursing home outside of the contract.
The contract of care will include the care plan which is a comprehensive plan outlining how the individual care needs of the older person will be met.
How do I ensure the property and finances of a resident are protected?
The HIQA standards state that every nursing home should have clear policies and procedure for managing a resident’s private property such as cash and jewellery. They also have a right to access items of personal property which should be kept secure either in a safe or in a secure locker or chest of drawers.
Where an individual is no longer able to manage their own financial affairs, typically in relation to pensions and payment of nursing home bills, there should be an agent appointed to manage them on behalf of the resident. This person may be an employee of the nursing home or a representative of the resident.
The legal situation regarding guardianship and decision making is changing as new legislation is gradually being introduced and professional legal assistance should be sought if the older person’s capacity is being in doubt.
How do I complain about something in a nursing home?
It is important if you have any concerns that you bring them to the attention of the management as soon as possible and there should be someone in the nursing home to whom these complaints can be made. Most disputes are solvable given good will on both sides.
If this proves unsatisfactory you can make a complaint to the Ombudsman's office and details of how to do so are availble on their website.
You can also call the Age Action information line on 01 475 6989 from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 1pm and 2pm and 5pm, or you can email us.