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Paying for Care

This section contains information on paying for care, including:

What the state will normally provide

There was a time when we thought the state would look after us 'from cradle to grave'. These days, the state still provides a level of care for the least well off. But if the state thinks you can afford to pay, you will have to pay at least some of the costs of accommodation and personal costs in a residential nursing home. Briefly, there are three bands of support:

  • If you have less than 23,000 in savings and investments you ar likely to be entitled to financial help. The amount of financial help you get depends on your incomoe and exactly how much capital you have, and the amount you pay will reduce as your capital reduces.
  • If you have more than 23,000 you will generally be expected to pay the costs yourself. However, it is still a good idea to talk to a social worker, particularly if you only have slightly more than this amount.
  • If you have less than 14,000 or if your capital reduces to this amount then it will not be taken into account at all.

If your capital falls below the upper amount while you are in a care home, you will become eligible for help from the local authority. If you want a more expensive home than the authority is willing to pay for, you are allowed to arrange a 'third party contribution' from another source. If you would like more information please contact us.

Where can I get more advice?

Paying for care is a complex subject, and everyone's situation is different. You should seek advice about your own case. Organisations offering specialist advice include:

  • Age Concern (0808 808 6060)
  • Help the Aged (0808 800 6565)
  • Counsel and Care (0845 300 7585)
  • Your Local Social Services department
  • Benefits Agency (0800 88 22 00)
  • Nursing Homes Fees Agency (0800 99 88 33)
  • Independent Financial Advisers
    (Ring 0117 971 1177 for the names of local IFAs)
  • Insurers who specialist in care fees planning

What the NHS will normally provide

Even if you are paying all your own fees, the NHS now makes a contribution to your nursing costs. Nursing care is defined as the care you are assessed as needing from a registered nurse.

In England the NHS will pay a contribution towards the nursing part of your care if they determine your needs are to be provided by a registered nurse in a nursing home. From 1st April 2006 the payments are 40, 83, or 133 per week, depending on whether your nursing needs are assessed as low, medium or high.

This contribution applies whether your care is funded privately or by the local authority. If you are paying your own fees, you will still have to pay for accommodation and personal care (such as help with dressing or bathing).

Will the local authority pay for care
in my own home?

There is no simple answer. For care in a person's own home, each local authority makes its own decisions about charges. Some authorities do offer free services, but will assess your income and will charge you if your income is above a certain level.

Benefits which may help

Many people are hesitant about applying for benefits, but if you want to remain in your own home, they can be extremely useful to you and your carers.

For example, Attendance Allowance does not depend on your savings or income, and could enable you to contribute to the petrol costs of a neighbour who does your shopping, or pay for a home help to do the tasks you can no longer manage.

There are also benefits for people under 65, and for carers. For example, Invalid Care Allowance is for people unable to work because they are caring for someone.

Everyone's situation is different, and you should get advice. Try Age Concern (0808 808 6060), Help the Aged (0800 800 6565) or the Benefits Agency (0800 882 200) or try your local phone book.

Insurance policies to pay for care

Immediate care insurance may be suitable if you currently considering moving into a care home. It involves paying a single large sum at the time you decide you need care. The cost is based on how long the insurer thinks you'll need care for, and the level of care you need. While the cost can seem a large amount, it should provide a fixed payment for as long as you need care, and can protect the rest of your assets.

The payments are tax-free if they are generally made directly to a care home and are portable if you decide to move to a different home.

Long-term care insurance, where you pay premiums over a lengthy period before you actually need care, is no longer widely available. If you have already taken out one of these policies it should still be honoured. All policies are slightly different. We suggest you speak to an independent financial adviser who specialises in care fees planning. Among the questions to ask are:

  • What are the benefits and for how long will I receive them?
  • What is the maximum amount the insurer will pay out per month?
  • Should I take out capital protection so any balance is returned to my estate?
  • Are the benefits paid to me so that i can arrange my own care?
  • Are the benefits protected against inflation?

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