When moving into a care home clarity about what the State currently provides is essential for all involved. Specialist advice is important because the current costs will change and future affordability should be considered. The home you choose must be suitable for your needs, and, not cost any more than the local authority would expect to pay for a place for someone with your needs.
Do you qualify for financial assistance?
As at December 2013 under current legislation – if you are assessed as needing a care home place and your capital is below £23,250, you should be entitled to financial support from your local authority. If you have capital below £14,250 you will be entitled to maximum support and if you have capital between £14,250 and £23,250 you will be required to make a contribution.
Where the value of assets you own – including your home – are above £23,250 then you will be expected to privately pay for your own care.
Where your property is occupied by a partner then it is not counted into your means but 50% of any joint savings will be assessed.
If, apart from your property, your other capital is below £23,250 the local authority will pay the costs during the first twelve weeks of permanent care. After that period any financial help will be charged against the value of your home and become repayable when it is sold.
You do not have to sell your property and could consider a letting but this needs to be considered carefully especially where it may not provide the level of income required after all costs.
Other financial help -If you are self funding, Attendance Allowance is paid at the lower rate of £53.00 per week for those needing care by day or night and, at a higher rate of £79.15 per week for those needing care by day and night. Also, whether your stay is temporary or permanent, if you receive nursing care in a care home you may be entitled to NHS Funded Nursing Care, which will contribute towards the cost of your nursing care. If applicable, an amount of £109.79 per week is paid by the NHS direct to the nursing home as a contribution towards the weekly fees. If your needs are primarily health care needs, you may be entitled to full funding from your local Primary Care Trust following an assessment under their continuing care eligibility criteria. These are not taxable but liable to change under government proposals.
What happens if you run out of money when in a home?
This is naturally a source of worry where we maybe able to help. Once your capital reduces to £23,250 you can seek local authority assistance. However, if the home costs more than the local authority usually pays and won’t reduce its fees, you could be in the situation of either finding a source of top-up funding or seeking less expensive accommodation. If there is a likelihood of running out of money it is important to arrange an assessment of your care needs to ensure the local social services will step in and help. Also the care home owner could agree to continue to accommodate you at social services funding rates, or you may need a third party top-up.
How can I avoid this situation? There are ways of meeting care costs for as long as you need care but this will use up part of your capital. For example, the use of an Annuity or lump sum payment could be used to contribute towards capping the care home costs from the outset.