MyLife Guide to Paying for Home Care
There are many worries when the time comes to arrange care for a parent or loved one; funding home care usually comes very near the top of the list. It’s hard to plan when you don’t know how long the care will be needed and one of the major concerns is usually that money might run out.
You may have already done some research and struggled to find one source giving the full picture about how to pay for care. If you are looking for a parent or another family member, then it’s already a stressful time for you so we have put this guide together with links to further reading should you wish to find out more.
- What to do first
- What is a needs assessment?
- Do you qualify for Local Authority funding of care costs?
- How a means test works
- Protecting your parents’ home & savings
- What the options are if capital assets are over the threshold
- Paying for care privately and ‘topping up’
- Things you should get for free
1. What to do first
Whether you intend to apply for funding or pay privately, the very first thing you need to do is to have your older parent or relative assessed by their Adult Social Services department. There should not be a focus on finances until a full needs assessment has been completed by Adult Social Services. It is possible that your local authority may want to discuss finances with you, however you can insist that the needs assessment is completed first.
You can ask for a care and support needs assessment by contacting your loved one’s Local Authority Adult Social Services department.
Find your local authority Adult Social Services department on the Government website.
If you are already, or are intending to be a carer, then you will also need to get a Carers Assessment.
2. What is a needs assessment?
A needs assessment is carried out by the local Adult Social Services Department. This might involve an Occupational Therapist, Social Worker or other health professionals to ensure there is no need for numerous visits.
The 2014 Care Act sets out the minimum threshold of need that the local authority should support, as well as the processes in place to support this. It should be person-centred to the client. The Care Act places wellbeing at the centre of your parent’s support needs. If your parent wishes to stay in their own home, this must be taken into consideration when planning their future.
There are minimum needs required for the Local Authority to be able to consider support. The measured outcomes are things such as the ability to carry out personal care, managing nutrition and mobility.
The assessment will also look at risk in balance with wellbeing, for example; if your parent is usually involved in community activities and is now unable to do so easily, this must be taken into account and planned for.
The local authority must provide a copy of the needs assessment.
3. Do you qualify for Local Authority funding of care costs?
Local Authority support for care funding is ‘means tested’, so a financial assessment will take place. Although your loved one will have paid National Insurance, this only counts towards pension and not social care. The assessment will determine whether your parent is to contribute to the cost of their care, and if so, how much.
If your parent has more than £23,250 (England) in savings and/or assets, then it is likely that they will need to fund their own care, or part fund it. If the capital assets are lower than the current threshold, then you can apply for Local Authority funded care. Even if you qualify for funded care you can still choose who provides your care. The direct payment is paid to you by the council so that you can decide how you want to meet your care and support needs
4. How a Means Test Works
The means test or financial assessment is carried out by your Local Authority and will look at:
- Regular income – such as pensions, benefits or earnings
- Capital – such as cash savings and investments, land and property (including overseas property), and business assets
You can be charged for home care services if you have more than £23,250 in savings.
5. Protecting your Parents’ home and savings
Often, people think about transferring their parent’s or loves one’s assets to protect them or deliberately deprivating assets and get the care they need funded by the Local Authority, however if this is discovered during the financial assessment, and there is clear pattern of this happening before applying, then the Local Authority may treat the case as if that capital was still there.
The Local Authority could also lawfully claw the cash back in order to pay care fees if any financial gifts are found to be made within six months of one of your parents entering care.
6. What the options are if capital assets are over the threshold
There are a range of options available to pay for home care, such as:
- Immediate Needs Annuity
- Downsizing the home
- Equity release
- Gaining a regular income from savings investments
7. Paying for care privately
The cost of care differs around the United Kingdom.
The cost is usually higher where employment costs and properties are more expensive.
8. Things you should get for free
There are some home adaptions and items that you can obtain for free which can help your parent around the home. These items might be community equipment items like a telephone with large buttons or flashing lights, electronic medication reminders, bed rails, alarms or minor home adaptations.