Paying for care is something that the majority of elderly people worry about, even if they are currently managing well in their own homes. Sooner or later, many older people will need some sort of assistance around the home, but the route to funding and financial aid is extraordinarily complex.
Local authorities are able to provide some forms of support and financial aid, but trying to find your way through the system can be difficult, so it pays to start considering all the options as far in advance as possible.
If you feel that your loved one might need to move into residential care, or you are exploring other avenues, such as employing someone in the home to provide companion care or other assistance, make sure that you do your homework thoroughly before committing to any plan of action.
Will my loved one have to fund their own care?
Currently, no financial assistance is available for an elderly person with assets of more than £23,250, although this does not take into account any capital tied up in the person’s home if they own it. This figure is set to rise at some point in the future, although the government has been unable to agree on a definite timetable.
The government has also considered raising the figure to above £100,000, but this could include the cost of any property owned, so make sure you check the current applicable figures before committing to a plan of action.
Getting a care needs assessment
Your local social services department is obliged to offer a care needs assessment to anyone who asks for one, and this is completely free. This will establish the level of help that is needed for your elderly relative, to remain in their current home.
The assessment is usually carried out by an occupational therapist or a nurse, who will look at the home to see what adjustments need to be made, such as handrails, ramps or other mobility aids, in order to make the home as safe as possible. The assessment will also look at your loved one’s state of health, including whether dementia care is something that would be appropriate.
Once the assessment is complete, you will be made aware of the findings and recommendations. The amount of care needed will be set out, together with a plan of action, which may include assistance from your local social services department, who may offer care at home for a set number of hours per week.
A financial assessment will then be needed, to determine the amount of financial help that may be available. The calculations for determining financial assistance are incredibly complex, and take into account various factors, such as the amount of benefits that your loved one receives, their outgoings, and their pension payments, if appropriate.
You will then be told the amount of financial assistance available to your loved one, and the amount of care offered by the social services department that will be free of charge.
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NHS continuing healthcare
Some people with complex care needs may qualify for NHS continuing healthcare, which is usually funded by the NHS, making it free of charge for the user. Depending on where your loved one is in the UK, continuing healthcare may be subject to a personal health budget, whereby funding is allocated for you to use on NHS or private services, according to your loved one’s own wishes.
There are strict criteria for admittance onto the continuing healthcare program, but it’s well worth applying, and if your loved one is not successful, it could be worth trying again if their condition deteriorates.
The system ensures that your loved one’s personal care needs are met, whether that means paying for specialist therapies or paying for someone to help with personal care tasks, such as dressing and bathing. If they move into residential care, there could be a contribution towards the fees, or for those receiving elderly care at home, the money could go towards those care services.
NHS-funded nursing care
If your loved one moves into a registered nursing home - that is, one that provides the ongoing services of a registered nurse - but fails to qualify for NHS continuing healthcare, even though they have been approved for nursing care, they may still be entitled to nursing care which is NHS-funded. If this is the case, any payments will be made directly to the nursing home, in order to fund nursing services on their behalf.
NHS-funded nursing care is not subject to any means testing, so anyone eligible should receive funding, whatever their personal financial situation.
Independent financial advice
Funding for long-term care is such a complex subject that it’s well worth seeking out comprehensive advice from a specialist advisor, before embarking on any course of action. It’s imperative to seek out a registered independent financial advisor with CF8 and/or CeLTCI qualifications, which show that he or she has the required knowledge of the various issues relating to long-term care and how to fund it.
Choosing such a specialist advisor gives you reassurance that they have the relevant knowledge and skills to ensure that you are able to make well-informed choices regarding care. The advisors are bound by a rigid code of conduct, giving you the reassurance that you can act on their advice without fear that you or your loved one may end up financially compromised.