Our needs change as we get older, aspects of living independently become more difficult and we start thinking about care options. Most of us prefer care services at home. But can we afford it?
£23,250 – at the time of writing this article this is the magic number for local authority funding. That is to say that is you (being the person that requires care) has assets greater than this figure they will NOT be eligible for local authority funding for live-in care at home.
If your assets are below this number, then you should apply to the ‘Adult Social Services’ department at your local council for a ‘Care Needs Assessment.’ Explain that support & care is needed with everyday tasks. There is no charge, and you are entitled to one regardless of your income and savings, and regardless of what your needs are. If you are the relative or friend of the person requiring care you can apply on their behalf, but they must agree to it. Of note here, care arranged by your local council is not usually free, but they may well contribute.
The assessment of needs typically will involve a home visit from a social care professional but may also be an online or telephone process. They look at aspects of your everyday living from physical abilities & disabilities, emotional needs & preferences, and you day-to-day living. They will most probably also consult your GP and any other professionals involved in your health and care.
If the ‘Care Needs Assessment’ (sometimes referred to as just the ‘Needs Assessment’ shows that you are eligible for support, then a ‘Care Plan’ will be devised detailing the level and type of support needed.
The next step - the local authority will arrange a ‘Financial Assessment’ to ascertain if you qualify for financial help towards your care, known as ‘funding.’ The ‘Financial Assessment’ is means tested. The local authority will look at your income, savings, and property to calculate how much you need to pay towards your care and ultimately how much they will.
If you are applying for care to stay ‘in your own home’ then the value of your property will not be included in the means test.
Depending on the outcome of the financial assessment:
The council will pay the full cost of your care
The council will pay some of the cost and you will pay the rest
You will pay for all your care
If the council contributes towards your care, they will arrange a ‘Personal Budget’ for you. The budget gives you an amount of money to spend based on how much it will cost in your local area to arrange the care and support you need.
There are three ways you can spend the money from your budget:
‘Direct Payments’ – Cash into a bank account you have specifically set up for this money. You chose and arrange the care as detailed in your ‘Care Plan’ and pay for it with this money. The council usually asks for receipts to ensure that the money is spent on care.
The local council - can arrange and pay for the care you need on your behalf (so they control your personal budget).
Third Party Management – such as a care agency will arrange payments for the service
Before you start applying for any financial assistance a top tip is to check if you are entitled to any benefits. Some of them are not means tested so do not depend on your income or savings.
An allowance for people over 65 that need help with everyday activities and medical care. Complete the form online on the government website with the aim to receive between £60 & £80 per week.
If you spend over 35hrs per week caring for a disabled person (you do not have to be living with them or even related to them).
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
A benefit for people who may need help with daily activities or getting around because of a long-term illness or disability. NB – PIP is a benefit applied for if you are under the state pension age. However, if awarded it does continue when you are over 65.
There are specialist advisor in care finances available and financial advisors too but there is also a wealth of knowledge on the government website. Care agencies are also a good place to start to call and speak to a friendly person that can answer your questions or at least signpost you to the best resource for you.
I’m Tanya, the Bookkeeper at Access Care, a Live-in Care Agency in the UK and I am here for you should you need me.