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Monday, 27 June 2011

Paying your care home fees

Some people will have to contribute towards their care home fees. Your local council will work out how much you may have to pay by doing a financial assessment.

Your financial assessment

Before you move into a care home, you'll have a financial assessment with your local council. The council will look at your income and capital and decide how much you may have to pay towards your care home fees.

Examples of income include:

  • private and/or State Pension
  • some benefits like Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance

Your capital might include:

  • savings
  • investments
  • any property you might own (like your home or holiday home, for example)

Before your financial assessment, make sure you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to. This is important because your contribution to your care home fees will be worked out as if you're receiving all relevant benefits.

No matter how much you have to pay towards your care home fees, you must be left with £22.30 a week to spend as you choose. If you live in Wales, then you must be left with £22.50 a week.

If you get the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, you will keep getting it.

Capital and the value of your home

If you live in England and have over £23,000 in capital you'll be assessed as being able to meet the full cost of your care. If you live in other parts of the UK, the following amounts of capital apply:

  • in Scotland - £22,750
  • in Wales - £22,000
  • in Northern Ireland - £23,250

Your capital will be counted as generating an income according to the following table:

Amount of capital you have if you live in England How your capital is used to calculate your contribution to your care home fees
Over £23,250 You will be assessed as being able to meet the full cost of your care
Between £14,250 and £23,250

Capital between these amounts will be calculated as providing you with an income of £1 per week for every £250 of your savings

£14,250 or under Your capital will be ignored in calculating how much you have to contribute to the cost of your care

If you own your home then it will usually be counted as capital 12 weeks after you move permanently into a care home. The value of your home will not be counted as capital if certain close relatives still live there.

Getting your needs assessed

Usually you will have a needs assessment before a financial assessment. Your local council will be able to tell you how much they usually pay for a care home that will meet your needs.

They can then arrange a care home for you or you can choose one yourself that charges the same sort of price that they usually pay. This is important if you are paying your own fees to start with but think you might need to ask your council for help later on.

What if you want a more expensive care home?

You can choose a care home that is more expensive than your local council usually pays for a person with your assessed needs, but you may need to find a way to pay the difference.

If the council can suggest a place that meets your needs and you still want to move into a more expensive care home then they can ask a third party (usually a relative or friend) to pay the extra. This is called a 'top-up fee'. You are not able to pay this yourself as you have been financially assessed to pay what you can afford.

If your local council cannot suggest a place that meets your needs in your local area then they should be prepared to pay more than their usual amount.

Nursing care funded by the National Health Service

If you live in a care home that provides nursing care, the National Health Service (NHS) would normally contribute £108.70 per week towards the fees to cover the cost of the nursing element. In Wales the NHS would normally contribute £120.55 per week towards nursing fees. Some people will have the full cost of their care paid for by the NHS; this is called 'continuing health care'.

People who qualify for this type of care usually need ongoing specialist medical treatment on a regular basis.

Hospital staff, or your local doctor (GP), can help arrange an assessment if you think you qualify. If you disagree with the decision made after your assessment you can appeal. If you are assessed as needing some regular nursing care you may receive a contribution towards your care home fees from the NHS.

Direct payments

Direct payments from your local council are intended to support adults in independent living and are not intended to finance permanent residential care. However, you may be able to use direct payments to secure occasional short periods in residential accommodation, if your local council agrees that is what is needed.

If you are in a care home

In some situations, people who are living in residential care can have temporary access to direct payments. For example, this could enable them to try out independent living arrangements before deciding to move out of residential care.

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