Care home fees estimated at £70m that were paid by families in Wales by mistake have been paid back by the Welsh Government.
Over 7,500 claims for wrong payments were received by the Welsh board since 1996. Elderly people sold assets to pay for places in care homes when – due to their health conditions – the NHS should have paid for care.
Legislation states that elderly people with assets worth more than £30,000 (including the value of their home if it is unoccupied) pay the full cost of residential care. However, if the individual suffers from certain medical conditions the NHS pays for care.
70% of the wrong payments had now been paid at an estimate of “just over £70 million”, the Welsh Government has said.
Wales Online reported how one family from Carmarthenshire fought for four years to be paid back the money that they had wrongly paid for care.
Idris Davies paid more than £300,000 for care before he died in 2014. His cousin Dai Davies said he felt it had been his responsibility to claim back as much money as possible.
“He was in care for 10 years altogether,” said Dai Davies. “First of all, he went into care more for physical reasons.
“He was a bachelor and he was on his own, so he decided to live in a care home where he could get support for his physical needs – he wasn’t totally independent at the stage. He needed some help to get around.
“But, when he was in the care home, his health deteriorated over time and by the end he had problems that were more health-based rather than of a physical nature – he had dementia and other conditions.”
“A grey area seems to exist with regards to where physical care stops and health care begins,” added Mr Davies.
“It depends on people’s interpretation.”
Hugh James Solicitors, who successfully supported families’ claims, said some had sold their homes to pay for the care.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Earlier this year we introduced an amended process in order to accelerate the speed at which claims are processed.
“We have also developed common reporting criteria across all health boards to ensure that progress in processing claims, and problems or challenges, are captured and managed as early as possible.”