Social care, unlike health care, is not free to everyone.
If you are eligible for services from the Council, you may also qualify for some financial help to meet your care needs. For those who are eligible, Adult Services will carry out a financial assessment.
Generally, if you have assets of over £23,250 you are unlikely to receive funding for your social care. (The value of your home is not taken into account if you need care in your own home).
You may be eligible for funding through a health fund called NHS continuing healthcare. This is care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but have been assessed as having a ‘primary health need’.
If you think this may apply to you, you should speak to your doctor or district nurse.
If you are paying for the full cost of the services you receive to live independently at home or in a care home, you are known as a self-funder.
You will be a self-funder if any of the following apply to you:
• You have chosen not to approach the Council’s Adult Services department for help
• You have chosen not to be financially assessed by the Council
• Your care needs have been assessed but you are not currently eligible for adult social care services
• Your care needs have been assessed and you are eligible for social care support but your savings or assets are above £23,250
If you have been assessed as having care needs which meet the eligibility criteria for Council services but do not qualify for financial help, you will need to pay the costs of your care yourself. However, if you need care at home, you can ask the Council to arrange your services for you.
There will be a one-off fee of £296 and then £6 per week thereafter to cover the Council’s administration costs. These fees apply to new self-funding clients from April 2015 who ask the Council to arrange their care at home. It is not applicable for those choosing care in a care or nursing home.
The self-funder fee will be charged where the individual has mental capacity to make their own decisions or where they already have someone in place with legal authority to act on their behalf.
A Deferred Payment Agreement is an agreement between you and the Council that is designed to help you if:
• you have been assessed as having to pay the full cost of your care, and
• you are going to live in a care home, and
• you meet certain criteria
but you cannot access your money because your capital is tied up in your home.
If you do become eligible for financial assistance from the Council to meet your care costs, the Council will ensure that your eligible needs are met.
If you are in a care home that charges more than the Adult Services contribution, it is possible to pay a ‘top-up’ to the home to cover the extra cost. Top-ups cannot usually be paid from your own income but could come from family or friends or, in some cases, from charities. If no third party top-up can be paid, the Council may need to ask you to move to less expensive accommodation.
For further information, see the Council’s leaflet on Top Up Payments
It is against the law to intentionally give away or decrease your savings or property (your assets) in order to avoid paying your care fees. Local authorities will only fund care after a thorough financial assessment and they can refuse to fund care if they believe that ‘deprivation of assets’ has taken place. Read more about deprivation of assets from PayingForCare.
The idea of selling your own home to pay for the cost of a care home is something which concerns most people. An independent financial adviser will be able to discuss your situation with you in detail.
Paying for care can be an expensive and open-ended commitment. If you are paying the full cost of care yourself, you should seek independent financial advice. Look for a financial adviser with specialist qualifications on advising on the funding of long-term care. They will be able to explain all the costs and risks involved and should be able to help with other things such as setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney.
If you are currently receiving care it is still advisable to seek specialist information and advice as there may be options available to you to protect your interests and those of your family.
The Money Advice Service gives advice about all aspects of paying for care. Telephone 0300 500 5000.
The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) is a not-for-profit consumer organisation that aims to assist consumers and their families in finding accredited independent financial advisers who understand financial needs in later life. Telephone 0333 2020 454.