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Welsh care homes slammed for charging residents to use the garden

Welsh Assembly members have called for binding restrictions that limit top-up fees, after it emerged that some Welsh care homes are charging people for using the care home garden, among other things.

Calling those charges “unfair and wrong”, Assembly member for Swansea East Mike Hedges said: “More should be done to tighten the rules around these top-up fees, along with a new independent redress system to allow decisions to be challenged. The Welsh Government’s guidance on this matter is not working and is unclear.”

In the debate, which followed the an auditor general’s review of social care published last year,  Assembly members also questioned the Senedd’s response on issues such as sharing information, service user and carer engagement, and recruitment, pay and terms and conditions.

Deputy minister for social services Julie Morgan responded: “Having to pay top-up fees to access the garden… is absolutely ridiculous. Personal contribution arrangements must never be used as a mechanism for subsidising the service provision for which the NHS is responsible.”

However, she stopped short of committing to amendments to existing guidelines on additional services in the continuing healthcare framework ahead of considering a report of the national care service expert group.

On an uplift to the real living wage, she said: “That is something that we are considering. We want to pay it, but financial circumstances at the moment are not very encouraging. But this is something we would certainly want to do.”

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