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Home care: what are the costs?

The costs of home care to an individual can vary widely and are dependent on many different factors.

These include the type of care needed, how many hours a week you need a caregiver to be present, your financial situation, where in the UK you live and whether you are eligible for any assistance with your care fees.

Fully Funded NHS Continuing Care

Some people are assessed on their needs for Continuing Health Care and may be eligible for fully-funded NHS care support. This can be provided by a hospital after discharge, a care home or by care at home, and is not means-tested.

There are relatively complex eligibility guidelines that have been set out by the government but, in England and Wales, these are open to interpretation by the person’s local NHS trust.

Essentially, NHS funding is the most extensive funding solution and can cover all of the costs associated with elderly care – but only if you’re deemed to eligible according to their checklist.

If you feel yourself or a loved one has been rejected unfairly for NHS support, it’s always worth challenging the decision – even getting expert legal help. However, despite campaigning from the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and others, specialist dementia care is currently not counted as a medical need and therefore sits outside of NHS funding eligibility.

The Dilnot Report

An independent report published on 4 July 2011 by the Dilnot Commission recommended that the total care fees paid by any individual in their lifetime should be capped at £35,000.

The report is solely based on care fees and does not include so-called ‘hotel costs’ which consist of food, heat, lighting etc. These are expected to cost an additional £7,000 to £10,000 each year.

At present, however, no upper limit has been imposed on the fees for residential care or in-home care, paid by an individual.

The Position Today

Individuals who require elderly care but do not qualify for fully funded NHS continuing care will be subject to means testing. The means test for both residential and live-in care looks at your income and any capital, such as any property or savings you have.

If your capital is under a certain amount – currently £23,250 in England and Wales – you should be eligible for local authority assistance with your care fees.

Residential care should leave you with no less than £24.90 a week after paying your care fees. This amount is known as your Personal Expenses Allowance.

It has to be taken into account that people who are remaining independent and living in their own property and receiving elderly care still have utilities such as gas, electricity and water to pay for, as well as food and all the other expenses associated with independent living.

Following a financial assessment, if you have capital assets or income levels that mean you will have to fund your own in-home care, you still have a ‘right to request’ that your assessed needs for care are met.

Even if you have to fund your own home care, the local authority still has a duty to arrange appropriate care but is entitled to charge an arrangement fee. You may prefer to arrange your own care or a family member may be able to support you in this.

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.

Living with Live in Care: Dulcie's Story

Types of Care

The costs of care can vary a great deal, as do the costs of home care. Care home dementia fees are frequently higher than those charged for basic elderly care, as a more intensive level of care is required from staff.

There is not usually the same distinction between fees for dementia care and standard care at home, although the people who provide care at home may need specific training in Alzheimer’s care or dementia care. Other options, such as respite care may cost more because of the time period involved.

The hourly rate for in-home care can vary from one provider to another, but not usually by a great deal. It is always advisable to research potential care providers thoroughly and not to just opt for the least expensive.

With private care at home, it is more important to find a provider who can match your needs with an experienced and trained carer who you can trust.

The major factor in deciding how much care at home will cost is how many hours of care are needed each week.

Although 24/7 care may initially appear expensive, it can be comparable to residential care fees and gives your loved one the advantage of staying safely in a familiar environment, while receiving one-on-one care.

For some older couples, private live-in care can be much more cost effective than residential care and ensures that they can remain living together in their final years.

Having a live-in carer can also widen an older person’s social horizons and support them in their chosen social activities.

Live-in care can encompass more than just care. A carer will help with tasks such as cooking and cleaning, which can save the need of having to employ additional domestic help.

Employing someone that your loved one gets along with and knows well is the next best thing to being cared for by a close member of the family, and also helps to preserve family relationships.

Providing ongoing care to a loved one can be difficult and often result in friction between the parties, but this can be avoided if someone else takes primary responsibility for the care.

Call us for expert live-in care advice

The costs of home care to an individual can vary widely and are dependent on many different factors. These include the type of care needed, how many hours a week you need a caregiver to be present, your own financial situation, where in the UK you live and whether you are eligible for any assistance with your care fees.

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