The ability to strategically plan for what sort of care you would like to receive is dependent upon having a good understanding of how care is funded. Once you know what care options are available, you can arrange your investments accordingly.
The cost of care can be met:-
- by the service user, i.e. paying privately
- by the Local Authority, where the person concerned has assets below £23,250
- by the NHS via NHS Funded Continuing Care
If you have liquid assets in excess of £23,250, you will be self-funding and so responsible for the full cost of your care until such time as your assets reduce to this threshold. Therefore, if you are nearing the capital limit £23,250, a financial assessment needs to be diarised so that local authority assistance can start seamlessly.
The cost of care can be significant, so thought must be given about how to invest your money to make it last. We advise that you always seek the assistance of an Independent Financial Advisor (‘IFA’). If you do not have an IFA or your IFA does not specialise on long term care planning, please ask us for a referral.
Some care providers negotiate on the cost of care - a self-funder who is able to meet payments on time is valuable, even if the home receives slightly less in comparison to another private payer.
In any event, there is an overriding need to ensure that you receive value for money. If you are concerned about this, Cognitive Law can assist, see ‘Care Advice’. We can also give you tips on how best to arrange your finances and how to avoid significant pitfalls such as Deliberate Deprivation of Assets.
Local Authority assistance
If you require care, a local authority will not help with the cost until it has completed a financial assessment. Therefore, if an assessment has not been offered, you should always ask for one and assistance will begin when a person’s assets reduce to £23,250.
If you have capital between £14,250 and £23,250, that element is assessed as if you have ‘tariff’ income. This means that for every £250 or part thereof above £14,250, you are treated as if you have an extra £1 a week income. Capital less than £14,250 it is entirely disregarded.
It is important to note that a local authority will pay up to a maximum per week. Any shortfall between this payment and the actual cost of care will need to be met by a ‘third party top up’, i.e. not from the person concerned. Therefore, regardless of how much or little capital and income you have, it remains important to plan ahead as to how you and your family might meet the cost of your care.
NHS Funded Continuing Care
NHS Funded Continuing is payable where a person’s primary need is a ‘health need’ and requires care beyond what would normally be provided by a local authority. In such a case, the NHS must pay for the person’s care as well as their accommodation costs.
The NHS is seeking to reduce its financial burdens wherever it can, so it tends to be an extremely high hurdle to be awarded Continuing Care.
Referrals to the team are usually made by the person’s GP, district nurse or the residential home owner. If the initial assessment ‘scores’ high enough, the assessors will complete a full assessment to decide if the person is to receive continuing care. If unsuccessful, the person can appeal the decision.
Continuing Care should be applied for if a person’s health is poor or in decline. Even if an award is not made, assessments should be diarised at regular intervals or as and when the client’s state of health declines further.
Fast-Track Continuing Care is a separate, much quicker, award where a person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
As you can see, this is a complex area which requires as much forward planning as possible to achieve the best results. Our later life solicitors have many years of experience in assisting clients in planning for the cost of later life, dealing with the practicalities and, where disputes arise, advising on next steps.
For more information contact our later life team on 0333 400 4499.