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Worried about Care Fees?

When a family member or friend is taken into care it can be a distressing time for them and their loved ones. The complexities of the funding only complicates matters further as the financial element of care fees is a labyrinth. 

There are three ways in which a person can be funded: 

  • the Local Authority/Social Services – this is ‘means-tested’
  • the National Health Service, i.e. continuing healthcare
  • self-funding

Local Authority Funding
If you are worried about how your relative’s care fees will be funded, due to the lack of savings or assets,  then contact the Social Services Department of your Local Authority to find out whether there is any financial assistance available.

A person can receive help to fund their care fees from a Local Authority if their savings and assets are below what is known as a ‘savings threshold’. The savings threshold varies in England and Wales. In England, the Local Authority will assist with funding if the person’s assets and savings are less than £23,250. In Wales, the Local Authority will assist with funding if the person’s assets and savings are less than £24,000.

If someone doesn’t have savings or assets which total more than the ‘savings threshold’, the Local Authority will then carry out an assessment of that person’s finances. This will help to determine whether the Local Authority will pay the full cost of that person’s care fees, or, whether they will contribute a specific amount each month. In cases where the Local Authority will only contribute a specific amount, the person or their family will be expected to cover the remainder of the care fees.

NHS Funding
There are two ways in which the NHS will help contribute towards a person’s care fees.

The NHS will undertake an assessment of a person’s needs upon the request of a family member, carer or other health professional. The first stage of the assessment is known as the Checklist Stage. At this stage, the person’s health needs are considered on a basic level.  This will help the health and social care staff judge whether it is appropriate to undertake a full assessment for NHS Continuing Healthcare. If it is determined that a person does not ‘pass’ this stage, they will be considered for NHS Funded Nursing Care. 

NHS Funded Nursing Care means that a person will receive financial assistance from the NHS in the form of weekly payments. In England, a person will currently receive either a standard rate of £112 per week or a higher rate of £154.14 per week. In Wales, a person will currently receive £140.59 per week.

If a person is deemed to ‘pass’ the Checklist Stage, the NHS will then complete a full assessment using a ‘Decision Support Tool’ and they will assess a person’s health needs in more detail. The NHS will look at eleven different types of needs, such as mobility, behaviour and nutrition. They will then look at the overall intensity, complexity and unpredictability of a person’s needs. If a person does not qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, they are likely to qualify for NHS Funded Nursing Care. However, if a person does qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, then the NHS will pay the entire cost of that person’s care fees.

But please note that eligibility for NHS Funded Nursing Care and NHS Continuing Healthcare is reviewed annually.

Self-Funding
If a person does not qualify for financial assistance from the NHS or the Local Authority, they will become self-funding. This means that the person in care will be responsible for the full cost of their care fees. 

Paying the full cost of care fees can be extremely difficult as the average cost of a care home per week is roughly £500 - £700. Therefore, it may be useful to seek assistance in the form of benefits. It is possible for a person to obtain Attendance Allowance whilst they reside in a care home, as this is not a means tested benefit. In order to receive Attendance Allowance, it must be shown that the person requires care day or night/day and night. If it can be shown that a person requires frequent help or constant supervision throughout the day or night, they will be entitled to receive the lower rate of Attendance Allowance, which is currently £55.10 per week. If it can be shown that a person requires help or supervision both day and night, they will be entitled to receive the higher rate of Attendance Allowance, which is currently £82.30 per week.

If a person owns their own home whilst residing in a care home, it is also possible to receive financial assistance from the Local Authority. In such cases, the Local Authority has the discretion to ‘place a charge on the property. This means that the Local Authority will fund the cost of care fees for a certain period. This money would then be reimbursed to the Local Authority upon the sale of the property.

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