Clear and simple guidance to help older people find their way through the care maze
If you haven't already done so, request a needs assessment from your local authority. You have the right to a free needs assessment. This allows your local authority to decide the level of support you require and whether they can provide it.
Local Authority Funding
If your assets are, or were to fall, below the local authority upper funding limit (currently £23,250), and you have been assessed as needing residential or nursing care, the local authority will top up your income to the amount they usually pay for your level of care. This may be less than what the care home charges. They will leave you with £24.90 a week for spending money. If the care home charges more than the local authority contribution a third party, such as a member of the family, can agree to pay the difference. The local authority will also expect you to make a contribution towards the cost of care until your assets fall below the lower funding limit (currently £14,250). For every £250 over £14,250 a payment of £1 a week is required, this is called "tariff income".
If your partner still lives at home some income may be excluded so that they can continue to live there. The property would usually be excluded from any financial assessment.
Currently, if your assets are above the local authority upper limit (currently £23,250) you will be expected to pay the full cost of your care. You would pay from your income. In the likely event that your income isn't sufficient then you would need to take money from your savings. It is likely your assets will fall in value and could run down to the local authority funding limit (currently £23,250) and even run out if no financial help is requested. There may be some benefits available from the state such as Attendance Allowance. If your assets fall below the local authority upper limit then you can ask to have your care funded by your local authority. If you qualify they will not pay the full cost of care (see Local Authority Funding above.) You will also lose your Attendance Allowance. You may also have a problem if the care home charges more than the local authority are willing to pay. If this is the case then:
~The Care Home may agree to accept the local authority contribution as payment in full.
~The Care Home may agree to accept the local authority contribution as payment in full providing that you move to a lower cost room.
~A third party, such as a member of the family, can agree to pay the difference ("top up").
~Or you could be expected to move to a care home that will accept local authority funding
The Twelve Week Property Disregard
This benefit is designed to help fund care whilst your property is being sold. It is only available to those who qualify when they first enter a carehome and have less than £23,250 in assets, excluding their property and personal chattels. To qualify you would first need to be assessed by your local authority's social services department as needing care in a care home.
For twelve weeks your local authority treat you as if you do not own a property, they will top up your income to the funding limit that the local authority normally pay for care. Generally most of your income will go towards paying for your care but an allowance of £24.90 a week is given for spending money.
If your savings are greater than £14,250 the local authority will expect you to make an additional contribution towards the cost of care. For every £250 that you have over £14,250 they will require a payment of £1 a week. The additional contribution could be up to £36 week.
If the care home costs more than the local authorities contribution during the disregard you can top up from your own funds.
Deferred Payments Agreement
If you own a property (your home), and you don't want to sell it, you have the legal right to defer paying your care home costs, which means you will not have to sell your home during your lifetime. If you are eligible, and ask your local authority, they will have to cover the cost of your care and reclaim that cost when your property is sold, before or after your death. You can ask for a deferred payment if your needs assessment recommends you move into a care home, you have less than £23,250 in savings, excluding the value of your home and your pension pot, and their are no dependent relatives living in your home (which means your home should be disregarded in the financial assessment).
The scheme is not simple, there is a maximum amount that can be deferred based on the value of your property (remember your debt will accumulate as the local authority pay for your care) and local authorities will have some discretion how they implement some of the legislation. It is likely there will be differences between local authorities. It is likely interest and administrative costs will be charged.
Contact your local authority for more information. Details of your local authority will be found in your local page.
Funding care can be complex, if you are self-funding you may be concerned about your money running out and the consequences of that. It may be wise to speak to a specialist care funding adviser to help your understanding and to consider the options you have to help secure your chosen quality of care for your lifetime.