It is remarkable how little conversation is had in care circles about paying for care. Yet just like education and health there is a great divide around those who have and those who don’t. The difference revolves around the choices available and it cannot always be said that you get what you pay for and in my experience quality can vary regardless of fees. It takes familiarity and experience to see the differences in quality. It is reported that the care is increasingly underfunded and that private funded care in care Homes subsidises Council funded care. Third party top ups, additional funds from a third party to facilitate the choices of care Homes, highlights the difference between the cost of care that the Council is willing to pay against the cost the care Home is charging. Always, always try and get some inside knowledge about the quality of care before embarking on the choices in front of you.

The facts as I see them in paying for care are as follows:

1) Know the thresholds. The upper capital limit is £23,250 and if you have above this amount in savings then you or your loved one may be assessed to pay the full cost of care. For every additional amount up to £250, between savings of £14,250 and £23,250 you are treated as if you have an extra £1 a week income. Not all Councils take this into consideration your savings, just your income, if you or your loved one receive care at home. Check your local council’s own calculations on their website. The financial assessment takes place after the  assessment and determination of your eligible needs under the Care Act 2014,  where an indicative budget towards the cost of care is arrived at and only after the plan of care is agreed by the Council, should you receive a personal budget.

2) If you want to receive the personal budget as a direct payment to employ a carer you need to be mindful of the regulations, tax and national insurance (NI) in relation to employing staff , however there are organisations that can advise and assist with tax, NI, pensions and payroll.

3) Know the cost of care in your area. Get a ball park figure for the  cost of care.

4) There are some exceptions to the Council’s financial assessment as to whether you can keep your home when you go into permanent care. These exceptions for those who remain living there are:

Your partner
A close relative over 60
A close relative who is living with a disability
A dependent under 18

5) If you or your loved one’s partner is living in you or your loved one’s home and joint owns the property then only half the value of the property should be considered in the financial assessment.

6) If you or your loved one’s health is deteriorating or is exhibiting behaviour or has conditions that suggest there might be a need for nursing input then a continuing health care checklist can be carried out. See for details These are national criteria so if you or your loved one thinks it might apply, and it can apply to people with dementia too, then this can be done by a health clinician. If already in permanent care then you can ask for this to be arranged.

7) The first 12 weeks of the cost of the care home can be disregarded if you or your loved one have less than £23,250 in savings. This is supposed to allow you time to sell the property to pay for your care.

8) You can request a deferred payment from the Council which allows you to delay the cost of care till the home is sold. If you can rent it out, this money can be put to reducing the care cost so there is less to pay off at the sale of the property.

9) Equity release schemes have had a bad name in the past but are now better regulated. They can prove costly, as it says, it releases the equity on the home, and again could be offset by renting out the property. You don’t need to go through the Council and it is advisable to speak to SOLLA approved financial/legal advisors.

10) Always check the impact any financial changes will have upon any benefits, allowances you or your loved one are in receipt of and whether they are taken into account in the Council’s financial assessment. Maximise  your income to pay for care through applying for the appropriate benefits such as Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for under 16’s or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If you or your loved one are in a permanent care home and the fees are paid in full or part by the Council or NHS, payment of the DLA’s care component, PIP’s daily living component or AA stop after you have been in a care home or hospital, immediately before, for 28 days. If you or your loved one is funding the care fully then these benefits should continue.

Age UK have some informative fact sheets on this topic and others too.

If you want more personalised advice please contact me for more signposting or free advice over the phone or for my help.

Just thought I better add a disclaimer as products and services change and my information is mine alone and I don’t intentionally miss you out of the conversation. Do get in touch. And if I may make a plea to keep it polite and courteous.