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AM I ENTITLED TO HELP WITH THE COSTS OF LIVING IN A CARE HOME?

Families and seniors contemplating moving into a residential care home are often surprised at how expensive it can be.

According to a report by healthcare specialist Laing & Buisson in 2018, care home costs can range from £27,000 to £39,000 per year for a residential care home and £35,000 to £55,000 per year if nursing is required. In our experience, these costs look modest and it is easy to find homes where the annual fees would amount to upwards of £78,000, especially where a resident has high needs or requires specialist dementia care and support. Securing as much funding as possible becomes paramount.   

Securing Funding - The Financial Assessment

Your local authority will carry out a financial assessment. The financial assessment determines how much you will have to pay towards the cost of your care. The local authority must tell you how much they think your care will cost and if they are providing funding, what your personal budget is (the total of their contribution and yours). The assessment will look at your income (including certain benefits) and capital (including savings) and sometimes the value of your home if you own it.   

If your savings and assets are:

  • less than £14,250 – you won’t have to use any of your savings to pay for your care
  • between £14,250 and £23,250 – you’ll have to pay some of your care home fees.  Your local authority will also make a contribution.  You’ll also have to contribute most of your weekly income. 
  • more than £23,250 – you’ll have to pay all of your care home fees.

Most people will have to contribute all their income, minus a small Personal Expenses Allowance. This is currently £24.90 a week in England. You might also receive £5.75 a week through Pension Savings Disregard. Some amounts are ignored when calculating your income, including:

  • certain benefits, such as the mobility components of Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance
  • half of private pensions or retirement annuities, if you’re giving them to a partner who is living at home
  • the income and savings of your partner
  • regular payments from a charity.

Remember, there are strict rules about giving away assets to reduce the amount you need to pay for your care.  This is called ‘Deprivation of Assets’. If a local authority decides that you’ve deliberately deprived yourself of assets to avoid paying care costs, they will then decide whether to treat you as if you still had the asset, include it in your financial assessment and charge you accordingly. In some case you could end up owing the local authority money which they could pursue you for.   

Can I Choose the Care Home I Want to Live in?

The local authority must show that there is at least one care home in the area that can provide the care you need within your personal budget. If you prefer a different, more expensive care home you may be able to move there if someone else will pay the difference. This is called a third party top up fee.  

David Lloyd
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