Care costs, whether residential or in the home are eye-watering.
Typically nearly £500 per week residential and over £200 per week at home. New rules mean that if you need help with your personal care, under the new Care Act regimes you are entitled to be assessed by the Local Authority (you should contact your local Adult Care Team for an assessment).
But who pays for that care?
That depends on the type of care needs you have and your financial resources.
Needs considered as ‘nursing needs’ should be paid for by the NHS either under Continuing Healthcare or NHS Funded Nursing Care.
- Social care needs such as help getting dressed, eating and moving around are paid for by the Local Authority, but only if your capital assets are below £14,250.
- Between £14,250 and £23,250 you are required to contribute towards those costs from your own capital assets.
- If you have over £23,250 (which can include the value of your property) you will need to meet all of your care costs privately.
The means test assessment is two-fold; income and capital
You will be expected to contribute almost all of your income towards your care costs. If that’s not enough (which, if you are in a care home, invariably won’t be) you will need to use your capital savings. Only if your spouse, partner or a relative over 60 remains living in the property will the value of your property usually be disregarded.
Under the current charging regulations for care home funding the only capital assets which are disregarded are insurance based contracts known as Capital Investment Bonds and Trust property.
When a relative’s care needs change it is a good idea to get yours, and their, affairs in order which include taking Independent Financial Advice and Independent Legal Advice to consider the long term financial effects of paying for care, reviewing your Wills and making Lasting Powers of Attorney. If you are not yet in contemplation of needing care you may wish to consider whether you can protect your family wealth.
Under the current rules the Local Authority will only help towards the cost of care when most of your capital assets have depleted
Even then this will only be up to their limit known as the “expected to pay rate”. If this is not enough to pay for the standard of care you want or the choice of location, family members may be asked to top up these fees.
Be wary of such agreements as they are difficult to get out of, will be for an indefinite amount of time and will increase year on year.
In addition it will come as no surprise that from time to time the NHS and the Local Authority get their assessments wrong and you may find yourself needing help challenging or appealing a decision or even just understanding the system.
The good news is that there is help available and often you just need to be signposted in the right direction – good legal or financial advice, or charities that can help with different aspects.