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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
'This free care is a con'
home reception
Fees at care homes vary widely
One relative tells BBC News Online of her anger at the launch of the government's 'free' nursing care. It's nothing of the kind, she says.

Margaret Hill pays 600 a week for care and accommodation at a mid-priced private nursing home in Surrey for her father Thomas.

Even if he is assessed to be in the category most needing nursing care, the most that the government will pay the home is 110 a week.


I feel very angry about it - I feel more angry that I'm being told that it's all free, when, whatever spin you put on it, it's most clearly not.

Margaret Hill
The government says this should be enough to cover his medical nursing needs - but he must pay for personal care such as washing and dressing by care assistants.

Thomas, now 86, has over the past few years gradually eaten away his savings - now his house is likely to be sold to meet the costs.

"He's paying the price for being thrifty all his life and building up savings.

'Spend the lot'

"It's a terrible thing to say, but my tendency now is to tell my children to go ahead and spend everything they have got."

Margaret, from Guildford, says that the government is contributing little to people in nursing homes and their families - but dressing it up as if all care will be free.

"I feel very angry about it - I feel more angry that I'm being told that it's all free, when, whatever spin you put on it, it's most clearly not."

Rubbing it in is the fact that in Scotland, the government voted to provide all types of care - both nursing and personal, free of charge to everyone.

"I'm happy for the people in Scotland - their Parliament has made the right decision," she said.

Costs not covered

While her father's nursing home cannot provide a detailed breakdown of the costs of each part of his care, she says that her impression is that the amount allocated is inadequate.


I know he would be very unhappy indeed if he knew what was happening

Margaret Hill
"My father requires considerable nursing care. I have a feeling that the amount is rather an insult to the amount of nursing care they provide."

In addition, although every resident's needs are expected to be assessed, the home has not appointed someone to carry out the assessments.

Thomas, formerly an advertising art director, suffers from dementia, and is unaware how much the home is costing to finance.

Margaret said: "I know he would be very unhappy indeed if he knew what was happening."

She describes herself as a traditional Labour supporter.

"I don't feel much support for New Labour at the moment," she adds.

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