How to pay for care – without selling your home
Caroline Abrahams, chief executive of the older people’s charity Age UK, said: “Many older people moving into a care home will be expected to shoulder most if not all the cost themselves.
“Even those with very modest incomes and assets will find they do not qualify for financial help under the current miserly means tested system.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said it is providing nearly £2bn a year to local authorities to improve social care provision.
A spokesman said: “We remain committed to delivering adult social care charging reform to make the cost of care more affordable. We’re working with the sector to address current pressures, and the funding has been retained in local authority budgets to support this.”
For those who are self-funding and staring at an annual cost of £60,000, then selling the home could be the only way to afford the eye-watering costs. But this can be a very tough decision for families to make.
Luckily, there are plenty of other options to consider before it gets to this point.
Do I need to pay for care?
The first step to answering this question is a care needs assessment. These are administered by your local authority and will establish what kind of care you need.
If your care needs are serious enough, it may be that your care can be partially or fully funded by the NHS.
NHS Continuing Healthcare covers the entire cost of care for those with complex healthcare needs, while NHS-funded nursing care provides £219 a week to those who need to go into a nursing home.
Nick Hutchings, of Shaw Gibbs Financial Planning, pointed out that, even if you have been turned down before, if your condition changes then you can apply again.
“People forget that you can take a needs assessment more than once. If the person’s health changes for the worse, it may be worth applying again to see if you are eligible for NHS funding,” he said.
After this, a means test will determine if you are eligible for state funding. The threshold in England and Northern Ireland is £23,250. If you have more than this in capital, then you will have to pay for your own care.
Your house will not be included in this means test if you receive care at home or if your partner continues living there after you have moved into care.
Am I eligible for benefits?
Even if you need to pay for care, you may still be eligible for some non-means-tested benefits.
For example, the Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit offered by the Department for Work and Pensions to people over State Pension age who need help with personal care or supervision due to an illness, disability, or mental health condition.
This is worth either £68.10 or £101.75 a week, depending on the level of support someone needs.