The long term care fees system can be a nightmare to navigate. Families often have to deal with numerous agencies such as GPs, social services, local authorities as well as care homes themselves. Care homes are also becoming less affordable, their average costs having increased by over 20% in the past five years.
There are ways, however, in which families can help themselves to find and fund care for their elderly relatives:
1. Request a health assessment – any person going into a care home (whether nursing or residential) should have their health assessed by the local authority. This will enable the local authority to work out the maximum amount it will contribute, if anything.
2. Request NHS continuing care – if health needs are severe then a person may be eligible for NHS, rather than local authority, funding.
3. Ensure that all state benefits are claimed – a person in a nursing home (ie not a residential home) should qualify for the Registered Nursing Care Contribution regardless of whether or not they pay their own fees. The rate for this benefit is currently £108.70 per week and is paid directly to the home. In addition, those who pay for their own care may be able to claim Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.
4. Think about property – those with assets in excess of £23,250 will not receive help towards care costs. Usually assets will include the value of a person’s home. However, this will usually be disregarded if a spouse, partner or relative aged 60 or over is still living in the property. Those whose assets, apart from their home, are less than £23,250 can request that a legal charge be placed over the property by the local authority. This allows the local authority to claim back any costs it pays when the property is eventually sold. This allows a person’s estate to benefit from any rise in property prices.
5. Think about a long term care annuity – although annuities are an expensive option they can often prevent the need for a person to sell their home in order to pay for care fees. An annuity is guaranteed to pay a fixed monthly sum for life. Any payments made direct to the home under an annuity are tax free.
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