Taking the stressful decision to put a loved one in long-term care can place a huge strain on families.
It’s heart breaking to confront the fact that your mother or father may no longer be able to look after themselves.
And then there is the upheaval of moving them from a home where they may have lived for decades.
Moving a loved one into a permanent care home of some sort can be very expensive and a real headache especially when stressing over who will pay, crippling debt worries and the worry over how to cover these high charges over the long term.
There are almost half a million elderly people currently in care and local authorities are struggling to pay the bills.
Children can be forced to sell their parents’ home and spend their own life savings because the state cannot afford to foot the bill.
Even worse, many elderly people have to spend their own life savings and sell their own homes to foot their own long term care.
You can’t rely on local authority help. Health authorities can act as prosecution, judge and jury when deciding who gets help; Of the 500,000 people in residential care just 30,000 elderly people receive NHS support:
On top of all this, care is not cheap. Typical residential care fees are £25,000 a year, while nursing homes cost £34,000, according to analysts Laing & Buisson;
There are other costs too, average life expectancy for those committed to care homes is just two years and even self-funders only survive for four years. Even if you do survive in a care home for eight years, the cost to you can stretch to more than £200,000.
Michelle Mitchell, director of charity Age UK, says:
‘Older people and their families have been struggling for years to afford enough good-quality care to support and meet their needs.
‘The outlook for older people remains bleak.’
So who will foot these care costs?
There are three choices: The individual, the council or the health authority.
The rules are that if the person going into the home has less than £14,250 in savings and assets, their care home fees should be paid by the council. But this includes their home, unless it is still lived in by a spouse, partner, carer, relative aged over 60 or someone who is incapacitated.
Less than 200,000 care home residents qualify for local council funding.
In England, if your relative has assets and savings worth between £14,250 and £23,250 they must make some contribution. In Wales, if their assets are below £22,000 they qualify for full funding.
Care needs are assessed by the local authority. It will pay a weekly sum, deemed sufficient to cover costs in the local area.
All of a resident’s income, including pensions, is taken, but they can keep £22.30 a week (£22.50 in Wales) for personal spending.
You have the right to choose the care home your relative goes into, but you’re limited by availability and how much the council will pay. Family members can pay top-up fees to secure their choice of home.
Do You have to sell your home to pay for care?
When you or a loved one needs residential care, you may be worried about having to sell your home to pay for the fees.
If the local authority is arranging the care home for you, they will do a means test to decide how much you should pay, and they may take into account the value of your home.
A means test is a financial assessment where the local authority calculates how much you may need to pay towards the cost of care fees. The means test will look at your capital and income, such as your savings and your property. Certain types of income, such as money from certain benefits and pensions, may not be counted. If your income and capital is above a certain amount you will have to contribute to your care fees.
Options Care Cost: Summary:
If you need care, your local authority may have a duty to arrange it once it has assessed your needs. However, you are likely to have to pay something towards fees from your capital or income, or both. If the local authority is involved in arranging your placement, the amount you have to pay is worked out via a financial assessment (also known as a means-test) based on national guidelines. I
If you have more than £23,250 in capital e.g. savings, your local authority will not make any contribution towards your fees.
Your local authority must carry out a needs assessment to establish you require residential care before it assists you with the cost. If you do have needs for care and support, they must assess you, regardless of your financial situation. Your needs assessment must result in a care and support plan containing various things including your personal budget. This is the amount the local authority calculates it should pay to meet your eligible needs after a financial assessment. Eligible needs are identified needs that meet the eligibility criteria for adult social care and the authority has a duty to ensure these needs are met. Sometimes, your local authority has discretion (choice) whether to assist meeting your needs. Prior to a care home recommendation, all other options allowing you to remain at home should be considered or tried if this is what you want. Other accommodation may be suitable such as warden controlled or extra care sheltered housing.
Your local authority has a duty to provide information and advice which is particularly important if you are found to be ineligible for care and support provision.