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What home carer costs do I have to cover?

Care at home is an attractive option for thousands of elderly people who would prefer to remain in their own homes, rather than moving into residential care. Home care offers plenty of flexibility. Whether you’re searching for companion care, or more specialised services, such as dementia care, you’ll quickly discover that elderly care comes in all types.

Is there local council assistance for home care?

Absolutely. Anyone can request what is called a Care Needs Assessment. Therefore if you feel that your loved one needs a helping hand around the home, then their local authority should be the first port of call. A Care Needs Assessment is completely free and is often carried out by the relevant social services department. They will visit your loved one’s home and identify any changes that need to be made, such as provision for wheelchairs and safety rails in the bathroom.

If the Care Needs Assessment identifies that help in the home is necessary, then your loved one’s local authority will also conduct a means test. This means test is to establish whether any financial assistance is available and if so, how much. The means test involves reviewing your loved one’s financial circumstances, although any money tied up in their home won’t be included. Those with capital of less than £14,250 will usually qualify for free local authority care, whereas capital of more than £23,250 will require any care to be entirely self-funded.

If a local authority agrees to fund your loved one’s care, there are two options. The first option is that this care can be directly resourced by that authority. The second option is that your loved one can opt to receive direct payments and independently source their carer.

What further financial support is available?

It is common for the elderly to worry that they are expected to fund their own care, which could potentially leave them in financial difficulties. Local authorities are however obliged to ensure that your loved one is left with access to an income of at least £189 per week.

There are various benefits to which your elderly relative may be entitled. These include Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance, but the onus is often upon the individual to ensure that they claim these benefits. It’s worth taking the time to find out which additional benefits your loved one can claim and help them to apply for them. Most of these benefits aren’t dependant upon a person’s savings. It is therefore essential to check, even if you feel that your loved one is reasonably financially secure.

Colin and Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.

We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for a fiercely independent woman - and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.

How much will care at home cost?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The cost of care varies throughout the country as it is common that people in the South are required to pay more than those in the North. But the type and level of care that your loved one needs is also relevant. For example, companion care costs less than the more hands-on, personal care required by some. A standard cost of care is approximately £15 per hour, although this could rise to £30 per hour if your loved one lives in the South.

Can I hire myself?

Rather than use an agency, it may be cheaper to employ a carer yourself. However, it can become time-consuming to place advertisements, read CVs and conduct interviews without their help. A full DBS check is also essential when you hire someone, so this is another cost to be factored in. When hiring independently, you will need to pay your employee’s tax and National Insurance. As well as this, there may be other legal obligations too, such as providing a pension and taking out employer liability insurance. This means that you’ll need to keep up to date with current legislation governing employment law.

Additionally, if you decide to ‘go it alone’, bear in mind that if your carer is ill, or leaves unexpectedly, you will need to go through the whole process again. This process is not only time-consuming and expensive, but it also leaves your loved one unattended until you can source a replacement. A reputable agency, on the other hand, will always be available to offer support and advice. They can swiftly provide a replacement carer whenever necessary, giving you and your loved one absolute peace of mind.

What about equity release?

In order to pay for care, it is possible to release money from the value of your loved one’s home. This allows your relative to remain in their home, yet still have sufficient funds to pay for their care.

However, equity release can be a minefield, so it’s important not to enter into legally binding agreements without checking and double-checking whether this is the best option for you.

When looking into this option, never be tempted to go with the first provider that you come across. Remember, your loved one’s entire home is at risk, so seeking out the advice of a financial advisor with specialist knowledge of equity release is essential. It will undoubtedly push the costs of arranging care up, at least in the first instance, but you and your loved one will be able to sleep soundly at night.

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