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Caring For A Loved One: Care Home Fees & Court Of Protection

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Care Home Fees, Deputyship and Court Of Protection

There are lots of reasons why you may be caring for someone – old age, illness, accident and other reasons, and caring for those close to us can be a challenging task whether you are a carer for a spouse, relative, or even a close friend. Even if you are able to make your own decisions in relation to your health, welfare and finances, you may be unsure of where to get help.

On a daily basis, many thousands of people rely on someone else to help them and with local authorities feeling the pinch, lots of ordinary people find themselves fulfilling the role of carer and having to make decisions on behalf of someone else. Given recent budget cuts within the NHS and to other public services, some people may find themselves cut off from the care needed and unsure of how to get help.

How we can help

The issues of caring for a loved one, acting for someone who has lost capacity or challenging care funding or care home funding arrangements is complex. Fortunately, we are experts and can break it down into 3 main areas:

  1. Care home fees
  2. Court of Protection
  3. Office of the Public Guardian

Paying for care

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)

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.

Means testing

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.

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. It may also 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.

Care Home Funding

The rules and regulations relating to care home fees can be confusing and you could find yourself dealing with many different organisations.

At Wilson Browne Solicitors, our specialist team of solicitors can advise on all aspects of care home fee funding. We understand the needs of our clients and can offer free home visits, subject to agreement, so we can visit you wherever it’s most convenient.

If you or a loved one are in a care home the fees will either be paid by:

You, The Local Authority, The Clinical Commissioning Group (formerly the Primary Care Trust), a third party or a combination of any of the above.

We can help if you think you need to challenge a decision of the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide ongoing support which may be in one of the following circumstances:

  • The person has been denied NHS Continuing Healthcare funding from the outset
  • The person was receiving NHS Continuing Healthcare funding and has now been assessed as no longer eligible
  • The person has died and you believe that they should have been entitled to Continuing Healthcare funding (in this situation you can make a claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate) or
  • The person never received an NHS Continuing healthcare assessment

We can also advise on NHS-funded nursing care which is a payment made by the Clinical Commissioning Group directly to the care home if you or your loved one require the services of a Registered Nurse.

If you or your loved one are not funded by the Clinical Commissioning Group but are in a care home you will be asked to complete a Financial Service User Assessment form by the local authority. We can advise on all aspects of local authority funding and challenge their decisions in relation to how they have valued and are treating your money and property. This includes situations arising because the Local Authority have deemed that you or your loved one have deliberately deprived yourself of assets.

If you have been asked to ‘top-up’ a loved one’s care home fees our team can advise on the third-party agreement and advise on the benefits and entitlements they should be receiving.

Read our guide:

Essential Guide To Paying For Care

Court Of Protection – if someone can’t make decisions for themself

The Court of Protection makes decisions for people who are unable to make decisions for themselves, either in relation to their property/finances or their personal welfare.

We specialise in making applications to the Court of Protection (COP) on behalf of clients asking the court to make a decision. For example, we can help appoint someone to manage a person’s financial affairs if they are no longer able to do so. Or to make a will (known as a statutory will) where a person cannot give instructions themselves due to mental incapacity.

Partners of the firm are also appointed by the COP on some occasions to manage a client’s affairs – in which case we act in the management of the client’s property and financial affairs.

Office of the Public Guardian (aka OPG)

Vicki Pearce is appointed by the Office of the Public Guardian: The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects people in England and Wales who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves, including decisions about their health and finances.

The Court chooses deputies from a list of guardians when no one else is willing, able or suitable to act as deputy for a person who lacks mental capacity.

The role is to support people who lack capacity by helping them make decisions about their finances.

The Panel membership was last opened 5 years ago and requires a rigorous vetting process including a written submission and two telephone interviews.