Care Fees Q&A: What You Need to Know

Care fees are a constant source of concern for many older people and their families. We have put together answers to some of the most common questions to help you understand the different types of funding and their qualifying criteria. However, we always recommend getting professional advice on your individual circumstances.

Who qualifies for local authority (L.A.) assistance?

If you have been assessed as needing a care home place and you have more than £23,250 in capital you will not get financial support from the LA. If you have capital below £14,250 you will be entitled to maximum support. You will be expected to contribute your income towards care costs, less £24.90 retained for personal expenses.

With capital between £14,250 and £23,250, you will have a ‘capital tariff’ of £1 per week for
each £250 between these two figures.

Capital can be buildings, land, savings, stocks and shares or trusts. It includes the value of your home unless occupied by your spouse, civil partner or partner; a relative aged over sixty years or incapacitated; or a child under sixteen years who you maintain. It is not regular payments of income, such as pensions or benefits.

If I am being funded by the L. A. do I have a choice of care home?

Yes, but it must be suitable for your assessed needs, comply with any terms and conditions set by the L. A. and not cost any more than they would usually pay for someone with your needs.

What if the care home I choose costs more than the L. A. will pay?

The L. A. will allow a third party to top up if they are able to do so over the longer term. You are not allowed to top up yourself from capital below £23,250.

Will the L.A. pay my fees while I sell my home?

If, apart from your home, your other capital is below £23,250, the L. A. will help with the first twelve weeks of permanent care. Beyond that period, any help will be charged against the value of your home and recovered from the eventual proceeds.

Is there any financial help I can claim that is not means tested?

If you are self-funding and receiving help at home owing to illness or disability, Attendance Allowance is a non-means tested, nontaxable benefit. It is paid at £57.30 per week for anyone needing care in the day OR night and £85.60 per week for anyone needing care in the day AND night.

If you receive nursing care in a care home, you may be entitled to an NHS Nursing Care contribution, currently £155.05 per week. If you need primary health care, you may be entitled to full funding from your local Primary Care Trust (PCT) under their Continuing Care eligibility criteria.

What happens if I run out of money?

Once your capital reduces to £23,250, you can seek Local Authority (L.A). assistance. If the home costs more than the L. A. usually pay, and will not reduce its fees, you could be in the difficult position of having to move to cheaper accommodation unless a third party contribution is forthcoming.

If running out of funds is likely, you should arrange an L. A. assessment to make sure that the L. A. will step in to help. You should also check that the care home owner can continue to accommodate you at L. A. funding rates.

My partner needs care, how does this affect me?

Only the partner receiving care should be means tested. Property occupied by a partner is disregarded and only 50% of any private pension should be taken into account. The L.A will take into account 50% of any joint savings.

If somebody is admitted to hospital from a care home (e.g. following a stroke) and needs significant extra care, could they qualify to have their care fees paid as a result?

In certain circumstances some people may have their fees paid irrespective of the savings that they have. This type of funding is known as NHS continuing healthcare. It is a package of care arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals outside hospital who have ongoing healthcare needs. Eligibility is not dependent upon a particular diagnosis or condition. What is relevant is that the primary need is shown to be a health need.

An assessment will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team before discharge. This team will look at 11 different types of need such as mobility, communication, nutrition and behaviour. The multidisciplinary team will make a recommendation to the PCT. NHS continuing healthcare will be reviewed after three months and thereafter at least once a year.

This is a complex area and you should seek legal advice before an assessment takes place.

For more information and help on any of the above matters, contact the Private Client team on 01305 623 501.

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