Sisters told they will be charged if care home staff accompany their elderly mum to hospital appointments (From The Northern Echo)
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Sisters told they will be charged if staff from Newton Aycliffe care home accompany their elderly mum to hospital appointments
THE family of an elderly care home resident fear they will be left counting the cost after a raft of new charges were introduced for hospital visits.
Margaret Stephens suffers from vascular dementia and has been a resident at the Rose Lodge Care Home, in Newton Aycliffe, since last December.
Her daughters, Diane Gumus and Margaret Cairns, said that while staff have provided first class care for their mum, they were staggered to receive a letter without warning informing them of the new charges.
Operator Countrywide Care Homes said they would charge the sisters £15 an hour if a member of staff was required to accompany the 76-year-old widow to hospital appointments.
In addition, a 45 pence per mile charge would be levied if a company vehicle was used and in the event of a taxi being called, the fare would be passed on to the family.
Mrs Gumus said she and her sister made every effort to take their mum to hospital appointments, but there would be occasions this may not be possible.
Mrs Gumus said she does not always have access to a car and her sister works full time as a teaching assistant.
“My mother has just had an operation to have a loop fitted to monitor her heart and she may need a pacemaker,” said Mrs Gumus.
This may involve further appointments at Darlington Memorial and Bishop Auckland hospitals, she said.
“This letter came out of the blue. There was no consultation and we were told it was with immediate effect.
“It applies to all residents, but it is going to hit those with dementia because they can't be left alone – others will be able to go to appointments on their own,” added Mrs Gumus.
A spokesman for Countrywide Care Homes said: “When a resident in one of our homes has a pre-booked visit to hospital, the manager will always try to contact the next of kin to give them the opportunity to accompany their relative to provide support and reassurance.
“If the relative chooses not to, or is unable to attend, wherever possible we will provide a member of staff to accompany them instead.
“On these occasions, a charge may apply since our staff members are often required to leave the home for a considerable period and we believe it is only fair that we are paid for this service, since it is not covered by the fee that we receive.”
He added: “For emergency appointments there is never a question of a charge.”
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