Care home fees are something many people are worried about, but something most people don’t prepare for either. Here we look at basic care home fee Q&A’s to help you better prepare for the cost of senior care.
Care home fees are something most people are concerned about, whether that is for their own care when they get older, or the care home fees of their family members.
Sadly, this fear is not unfounded. According to not-for-profit organisation PayingForCare.Org in the UK the average person can expect to pay around £30,000 a year on average for a place in a care home, and possibly significantly more in some locations and for different personal circumstances. Weekly care home fees can reach a staggering £1200 a week in the South East of England, sometimes even more closer to London.
The first step to alleviating any worry is understanding how care home fees work, so you can prepare properly. Knowledge is key when it comes to avoiding pitfalls associated with these costs.
Here are some helpful Q&A’s to help you understand more about the costs involved:
Who Pays For Care Fees?
If you or a relative has been successfully assessed as needing to go into a residential or nursing home, and you have less than £23,250 in capital (that’s savings, shares and other investments), then you are entitled to some financial support. That financial support comes from your local authority.
If you have under £14,250 capital you get the full support on offer, but you have to give up all of your incoming money apart from just £23.90 a week for yourself.
When you have more than the £14,250 threshold but less than the minimum £23,250 to get state funding, then you have to pay £1 a week care contribution for every £250 more than £14,250 you have up to the £23,250.
When it comes to assets, such as shares or savings, these are included in the assessment of your capital and so, if your capital is more than £23,250 you are expected to pay your own fees.
If you own your own home that is also included as capital but only if you do not have a partner living there who jointly owns the property. Jointly owned property is not included in the financial assessment while your partner is still living there after you move into a residential home.
Can I Choose A Home That Costs More Than The Local Authority Budget?
As long as there is proof the extra cost can be contributed to long term, the local authority will allow you to choose a more costly home. But this additional money can only be contributed by a third party not by the person in the care home.
For example: if your Mum needs to go into a care home and has £30,000 capital, she cannot show she has £23,250 capital, get local authority funding and then use the rest of her money to top up fees for a better care home. However, if she only has between £14,250 and £23,250 capital, but her son has the income to top the local authority contributions up so she can go into a more expensive care home – that is allowed.
What Happens If I Self Fund Care Home Costs
If you sell your home to get capital for fees and have capital below £23,250 aside from your home, you are only entitled to 12 weeks’ worth of care home fees from your local authority. If you have capital more than £23,250 aside from your property, you will get financial help but that money will be recovered once your home is sold. If you don’t want to sell your home, Social Services will lend you the money to pay for your care against the value of your home, but there will be a limit to how much you can borrow, and your benefits entitlement might be affected.
Is There Any Non-Means-Tested Support For Care Home Fees?
There is something called Attendance Allowance which isn’t taxed and is not means-tested and is available for those self-funding their care. It provides help up to around £80 a week for day and night care. If you need nursing care in a care home, you are also entitled to nursing care funding from the NHS which is around £110 pounds per week paid directly to your nursing home. In some situations, a person might be entitled to have everything paid for.
Also there is a service available from, and arranged by, the NHS called NHS Continuing Healthcare which is for people who have a primary health need. Unlike social and community services provided by local authorities NHS Continuing Healthcare is free of charge.
If you are eligible it can be provided either:
- in your own home – the NHS will pay for a community nurse or specialist therapist, and provide help with bathing, dressing and laundry
- in a care home – as well as healthcare and personal care, the NHS will pay for your care home fees, including board and accommodation
What Happens If I Run Out Of Money When Self Funding
Once you have less than the £23,250 threshold you can apply for local authority funding. However, if the home you are in costs more than the local authority will pay, you will be in a very difficult situation where you need either a third party (such as a family member) to top up the costs, or you will need to move to a less expensive home.
Even though local authority help is valuable and helpful, it really doesn’t take away the worry associated with care home fees.
According to our No Place Like Home Report, 72% of people worry about having to sell their home to pay for care home fees, and 70% of people worry about having to go into a care home in the first place. 69% of people worry that their family couldn’t afford good caring services for them, proving that the entire issue is something that affects everyone involved, not just the person with residential care needs. In all cases, the more financial planning a family can do, the better.
The worst thing when facing long-term care is to be unprepared and have to make a rushed decision. So sit down with your family as soon as you can and discuss your choice of care options so that when the time comes you will be happy with your choice.