Many people think that care centres in the independent sector are only for the wealthy. You may be surprised to know that the majority of care centres in the UK are owned by the independent sector, and that 70 per cent of residents have their fees paid partly or wholly by their local authority.
If you are paying all the fees yourself, you can choose whichever care centre you find suitable for your needs in your price range (see Care Type for more information on the different types of centres and the care they offer).
If your local authority is assisting with funding, it doesn’t mean you have to choose one of their care centres. You can request any care centre that accepts residents funded by the local authority. However, the local authority will want to be sure that the care centre is suitable for your needs and doesn’t cost more than it would usually pay for that type of care.
If you want a more expensive care centre than the authority is willing to pay for, you are allowed to ‘top up’ their contribution from another source.
We are experts in guiding potential clients and their families in obtaining assistance with the payment of fees from government bodies, social services etc. In many cases we can help obtain a high percentage payment towards our fees from the relevant funding body, subject to qualification and means. Funding is provided by:
- self funding
- local authority
- local authority plus top-up
- PCT/continuing care
What the state will normally provide?
There was a time when we thought the state would look after us ‘from cradle to grave’. These days, the state still provides a level of care for the least well off. But if the state thinks you can afford to pay, youwill have to pay at least some of the costs of accommodation and personal costs in a residential care centre.
Where can I get more advice?
Paying for care is a complex subject, and everyone’s situation is different. You should seek advice about your own case. Among the organisations offering specialist advice are:
- Charities such as Age UK (0800 169 65 65) and Independent Age (0800 319 6789)
- Your local Social Services department
- The Benefits Agency (0800 882 200)
- The Nursing Homes Fees Agency (0800 99 88 33)
- Independent Financial Advisers (ring 0117 971 1177 for the names of local IFAs)
- Insurers who specialist in care fees planning
What the NHS will normally provide?
Even if you are paying all your own fees, the NHS now makes a contribution to your nursing costs. Nursing care is defined as the care you are assessed as needing from a registered nurse.
If you live in a care centre that provides nursing care, the National Health Service (NHS) would normally contribute towards the fees to cover the cost of the nursing element. Some people will have the full cost of their care paid for by the NHS; this is called ‘continuing health care’.
People who qualify for this type of care usually need ongoing specialist medical treatment on a regular basis. Hospital staff, or your local doctor (GP), can help arrange an assessment if you think you qualify. If you disagree with the decision made after your assessment you can appeal. If you are assessed as needing some regular nursing care you may receive a contribution towards your care centre fees from the NHS.
Will the local authority pay for care in my own home?
There is no simple answer. For care in a person’s own home, each local authority makes its own decisions about charges. Some authorities do offer free services, but will assess your income and will charge you ifyour income is above a certain level. Benefits which may help
Many people are hesitant about applying for benefits, but if you want to remain in your own home, they can be extremely useful to you and your carers. For example, Attendance Allowance does not depend on your savings or income, and could enable you to contribute to the petrol costs of a neighbour who does your shopping, or pay for a home help to do the tasks you can no longer manage. There are also benefits for people under 65, and for carers. For example, Carers Allowance is for people unable to work because they are caring for someone. Everyone’s situation is different, and you should get advice. Try Age Concern (0800 00 99 66) or the Benefits Agency (0800 882 200). Insurance policies to pay for care
Immediate care insurance may be suitable if you currently considering moving into a care centre. It involves paying a single large sum at the time you decide you need care. The cost is based on how long the insurer thinks you’ll need care for, and the level of care you need. While the cost can seem a large amount, it should provide a fixed payment for as long as you need care, and can protect the rest of your assets.
The payments are tax-free if they are generally made directly to a care centre and are portable if you decide to move to a different centre.
Long-term care insurance, where you pay premiums over a lengthy period before you actually need care, is no longer widely available. If you have already taken out one of these policies it should still be honoured. All policies are slightly different. We suggest you speak to an Independent Financial Adviser who specialises in care fees planning. Among the questions to ask are:
- What are the benefits and for how long will I receive them?
- What is the maximum amount the insurer will pay out per month?
- Should I take out capital protection so that the balance of any lump sum is returned to my estate?
- Are the benefits paid to me so that I can arrange my own care, or paid direct to the care centre?
- Are the benefits protected against inflation?