`My money will all be taken. It's heart-breaking'

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The Independent Online
ELLEN WHITE always thought she would be able to leave her home to her children when she died. Instead, she now faces having to sell the bungalow where she lived for more than 20 years to pay the costs of staying in a care home.

Last year, Mrs White, a widow, broke her hip. She spent time in hospital and it was then decided her own home was no longer suitable. Both the kitchen and the bathroom were too small to get into with the walking frame she now requires. She was transferred to a convalescent home and from there to the Montrose care home in Watford, Hertfordshire, on 4 December. Her bungalow is now to be sold.

"I feel pretty awful about it, very distressed when I think about it. It's heart-breaking," she said. She had already made a will leaving the property to benefit her son, Michael, and daughter, Avril, her six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

"Of course, now I've got to make a new will. Will there be anything left to leave? They go on taking the money for my keep until the money is used up. I don't think there will be anything left." She considers the current system a "dreadful sin. Those people who have not looked after their money, who smoked and drank and everything else, the Government will keep them. But those people who haven't smoked or drunk, who've saved up with our children in mind, then you're penalised in the end."

She had watched this happen to other people in the past. "I thought I'll never let them do that to me," she said. "But you get caught."

STAN SHEINWALD has lost everything of the life he once enjoyed as he faces the consequences of his wife having developed multiple sclerosis.

He spent seven years looking after Mary, giving up his own business as an insurance broker to do so.

After a spell in hospital last year, the social workers suggested that Mrs Sheinwald, now 54, should go into care. "They said, `It's about time you let go. Your health is suffering.' I said fine," Mr Sheinwald, 61, said. But in his bewilderment at the time, he failed to appreciate what this would mean for both of them. Without his wife's social security payments, his own income was left at just pounds 61 a week, making it impossible for him to pay the mortgage on their four-bedroom home. He sold the house and most of the profit went to clear debts incurred during the time he had not worked. He bought a small two-bedroom flat to be able to live near his wife in her residential home in Harrow, north-west London. But now the social security department has made a claim on his flat, saying half belonged to Mrs Sheinwald and should be used to pay her care fees. "I could be homeless," Mr Sheinwald said yesterday. "I've lost my business, my house that I worked very hard for and my wife. I've paid a very high price.

"If someone gives up their life to look after someone and just manage to survive, they shouldn't be abandoned.

"The Royal Commission estimates it would cost pounds 1bn a year to pay for this kind of care. Carers save the Government pounds 34bn a year. Where is that money going?"