Third party top-ups

If a person qualifies for local authority funding to pay for their care home, it's possible to choose an alternative, more expensive care home and arrange for the extra cost to be paid by someone else - usually a relative, friend or charity. This is known as a third party top-up. 

It's worth bearing in mind that if the care home proposed by the local authority does not meet the client’s requirements (or their care needs haven’t been properly assessed), the decision can be challenged. This should be considered before arranging a third party top-up. 

How it works

The extra cost has to be met by a third party unless:

The local authority is responsible for making the payments to the care home and will invoice for the top-up.

They'll also ask the person topping up to sign a written agreement. 

The local authority must provide a written agreement covering the terms of the arrangement. This will include:

  • the cost of the top-up
  • frequency of payments required
  • when these payments will be reviewed
  • an explanation of how any increases in care home fees will be paid
  • what would happen if the top-up becomes unaffordable 

If the top-up payments become unaffordable, the local authority will have to carry out another care needs assessment on the individual receiving care. This could result in a move to a less expensive care home or a lower cost room in the same care home. Alternatively, the local authority may decide to pay the extra costs. While the review is in process, they are responsible for paying the top up fees. 

Who might benefit?

A third party top-up can help people who want to choose an alternative, more expensive care home and can arrange for the extra fees to be paid, but there is a risk if the third party becomes unable to fund the extra costs. In this case, the worst outcome would be that the person receiving care may have to move to a different care home.