Care – the Muddle

Home care for elderly people can be accessed from two financial directions. Either the Government pays/part pays or individuals pay from their own funds.

In reality, the amount of home care that Government is paying for is decreasing. Five years ago the majority of councils would pay for low, moderate, substantial and critical care. In 2013, 80% of councils will now only fund substantial or critical care.

Many councils purchase home care on behalf of people being financially assessed as being able to contribute and five years ago the majority of the councils had a financial cap limiting the amount. 

These financial caps are now being removed or the level of the cap is raised, the average cap now being £297.50 per week. Only 39 councils in England currently operate a weekly cap, all councils in Wales operate a cap of £50.00 per week and personal care in Scotland and Northern Ireland is free.

It may be the case that in some areas of England, having care via a council contract is more expensive than purchasing home care privately from a local care agency. Purchasing private home care may also give more flexibility and choice.

Many people choose to move into a care home. The current Government proposal is to set a cap on the amount of care home fees that a person has to pay. In effect this is not quite as it seems. What the cap will actually apply to is the cost of the personal care that a person will receive but does not cover accommodation or food costs. As care home costs are made up of these three factors, in effect older people and their families will have to pay around £150,000 upwards before they reach the cap of the suggested £75,000 relating to personal care costs. An example is that in some areas you may have to pay for upwards of two years before you reached the level of £75,000 re. personal care and after that you would still have to pay accommodation and food costs. Estimates are given that only 10% of older people going into care homes will benefit.

The idea that a person’s home will not have to be sold to fund a person’s care costs is also not as it seems. What it means is that the person’s home will not have to be sold to pay for care whilst they are alive. Local government will take a charge on the property to fund care costs and after death when the property is sold, the loan will be repaid plus interest. (One thought is what do you do with an empty property? Some families may rent the property out and this practice is carried out now by some families).

In the mix of who pays for care is a third party; the NHS. Under the NHS Continuing Care package, many older people with specific clinical needs, e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, palliative care needs, etc.  can apply to have their care paid for by the recently formed Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The muddle of the care system for those trying to find a way through, is confusing and frustrating. Solicitors for the Elderly and specifically qualified financial advisors in products and investments relative to the payment of aged care bills are available to help find a way through the maze. 

Angela Gifford.

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