Many of us are likely to need some level of care support as we get older. And the reality is that most of us will have to pay for some or all of that care. Uncertainty over how care funding rules work can cause anxiety and may lead to people not seeking the help they need.
This guide briefly explains how the process works. While there’s no easy way to avoid care costs it’s always helpful to understand how your care needs will be assessed and how your local council will decide what you will need to pay.
1. The Care Needs Assessment
The first step is to have your care needs assessed by your local council. You can request a care needs assessment by contacting the adult social services department. You can also do this on behalf of a relative as long as they give their consent. The assessment is free.
You may also have a care needs assessment if you are about to be discharged from hospital. If you need medical rather than personal care the NHS will pay. This would normally apply only if you have a disability or complex medical condition.
2. The Care Plan
The assessment will look at your physical and emotional needs. Based on these needs, your preferences, and what you would like to be able to do more easily with care support, the local council will draw up a care plan. They will most likely consult your doctor or any other health professionals you come into contact with regularly.
The care plan will specify the help you need and any modifications that might be needed to make you home easier for you to live in. It may say whether the most appropriate option is for you to receive help from a care at home service or residential care.
3. The Means Test
The council will ask about your income, savings and other assets to assess how much you need to contribute to the cost of your care. If you are planning to use a care at home service, the means test will not include the value of your property.
If you are going to enter residential care the cost of your property will be included unless your home will continue to be occupied by your spouse or partner, a relative aged over 60 or a child under the age of 18.
If you live in England and have assets of more than £23,250 you will have to fund all of your care. Below this level the local council will meet some of the cost. If you have assets worth less than £14,250 the council will pay for all of your care.
Giving away assets to family members to avoid care fees is unlikely to work. It is often possible to defer payments so that they are collected from your estate after you die.
4. Paying for Care
If you are eligible for council-funded care they can arrange this for you, or you can receive direct payments and pay for the care yourself. If you are self-funding, your council can still provide advice and help you choose a reputable care provider.
Altogether Care is a family-run business providing a range of care services to people in Dorset, South Somerset and Hampshire. If you have any questions about the support available, costs or any other aspect of care please get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.