How to manage care costs

How to manage care costs
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Will the local authority pay my care home costs?

The care needs assessment will assess if the person you are caring for requires to be moved to a care or nursing home. If a move to a care home or nursing home is required, the local authority could pay for some or all of the fees, depending on your financial state.

Who is eligible for financial help?

A means test will look into your capital (savings and property) to assess if you are able to afford care costs without assistance.

  • If your total capital is over £23,250, you will have to cover all of the care costs. 
  • If your capital is between £14,250 and £23,250, the local authority will cover some of the costs and you will cover the rest. 
  • If your capital amounts to less than £14,250, the local authority will pay for your care. 

Who is assessed in the means test?

When considering your income (you being the person going into care) it is just you as each person is treated individually. However, if you are a homeowner sharing a house with a husband, wife or partner, the value of the house won’t be counted as capital if these people still live there.

However, if you move out of your home into care and choose to rent out your home, it will be treated as capital. However, any income from rent won’t be counted as your income.

What is a deferred payment agreement?

This is where your local authority lets people use the value of their homes to pay for care bills. This is a legal agreement whereby your local authority will pay for your care costs until you decide to sell your house or you pass away. The costs of care that the local authority have paid up to that point will then be covered by the sale of your house.   

Am I eligible for a deferred payment agreement?

You must meet the following eligibility:

  • Have capital less than £23,250
  • Be the homeowner
  • No one else should be living in the property
  • You should be planning to be in long-term care.

For more information on deferred payment agreements, visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

What is included in my capital?

Your regular income – pensions, earnings, benefits.

Could I sell some of my property and spend some of my savings to become eligible for support?

This is called deprivation of assets. If the council find out you have intentionally reduced your capital, they will calculate your fees as though you still have those assets.

If you are taking care of someone in your home and are having an assessment to see if you are eligible for any home adaptations, the value of your property will not be taken into consideration. If you are wanting to permanently move into a care home it will be.

What if I start to run out of money to pay for care?

If your capital begins to run out and reaches below £23,250 you should have another means test where you could be eligible for some financial help.

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Can I still have my choice of care home?

If you are paying for your own care, yes. If the local authority is helping you, they must try to arrange accommodation in that chosen home if possible. However, for them to assist with costs, the care home must meet the below requirements:

  • Must meet your needs
  • Doesn’t cost more than the local authority would expect to pay for this type of accommodation.
  • The care provider must enter a contract which meets the local authorities terms.
  • The care home must be within the UK.

What if I want a more expensive care home?

This is okay providing someone else is willing to meet the difference in cost. This is called a third-party top-up.

What is the difference between temporary and short-term care? 

Once the local authority has assessed your needs, you may be placed into a care home on either a permanent, temporary or short-term basis. Depending on the length of time you will be in care, affects how you are charged.

  • Permanent: In care for the foreseeable future with no plans to be cared for from home.
  • Short-term: residing in a care home for a period not exceeding 8 weeks. Short-term care is often referred to as respite care.
  • Temporary: a little longer than short-term care, temporary care is intended to last no more than a year (or 52 weeks-worth of care). There must be a plan to return home at some point.

How much will I be charged for permanent stays?

The cost of care depends on where you live in the UK. It also depends on whether you are looking for a nursing home or a care/residential home as nursing homes are substantially more expensive. To get some sort of idea of costs, try visiting the Which.co.uk website, where you can find a break down of the average costs of care across the country. 

How much will I be charged for short term stays?

You can ask your local health care trust if you could get respite care free of charge for a short period of time. They do not have to grant this however and you may have to cover the costs yourself or after a certain period of time. You are best to contact your local authority and enquire about what costs they are able to cover. 

How much will I be charged for temporary stays?

This again depends on the area you are seeking care and also how long you will be needing care for. It may be helpful to take a look at this care cost calculator on the UK care guide. You can also try and calculate how much at home care costs could be with this calculator too. 

What is a means test?

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If you are seeking financial assistance from your local authority in covering care costs, home adaptations and care home costs, the local authority will want to look at your income, savings and property in order to assess how much you can afford to contribute to care costs yourself. In terms of care, a means test is often referred to as a care needs assessment. 

What should I consider before having a means test?

It is important to keep in mind that a means test assesses the capital of the individual needing to go into care. If you have a joint account with the person who is going into care, it might be a good idea to divide these assets between the two of you. The person needing care will then have less capital meaning their partner/person they share their account with won't be fully responsible for funding their care. It is important to make these financial changes before a means test. 

Source: Ageuk.org and The Money Advice service