Long-term care costs - why where you live makes a differencePosted on: 21 December 2011 by Andrew Stallard
Where you live also affects the contributions to nursing care costs and how your property is being assessed...
Two weeks ago we wrote about long term care costs and funding. One of the subjects we mentioned in our article was the contribution to nursing care costs that some people are eligible to receive. This is an area where many people who are facing the prospect of long term care for themselves or for family have found themselves in a maze of rules and criteria.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that the rules on contributions to costs and how your property is assessed are different between England and Northern Ireland. How do you find out where you stand with regard to any financial assistance you may be eligible for, or what costs you will be liable for?
When it comes to the matter of property, i.e., your home, there are various regulations, most of which are similar in both England and Northern Ireland. Firstly, the value of your home will not be taken into account for the first 12 weeks of your stay in a care home. The reason for this is to prevent anyone having to sell their home immediately, and it turning out that they may not need to stay in a care home.
After this 12 week period, depending on your circumstances, your property may be assessed as part of your assets in connection to how much you contribute to your care, or it may not.
Guidelines for Northern Ireland state that if you have a spouse or a relative over 60, or a relative who is disabled living in your home, its value will not be taken into account. If there is another person living in the home who does not come under any of these categories, there is some discretion allowed if it would be considered 'unreasonable' for them not to be taken into account. For example, it might be disregarded if someone has given up their own home to become a carer. (1)
In England, responsibility for carrying out care assessments and any subsequent financial assessments belongs to local authorities. In Northern Ireland, it is the responsibility of local Health and Personal Social Services Trusts.
If you are assessed as needing nursing care, which is a narrow term, then you may be eligible for financial assistance from your local Trust. In Northern Ireland, the maximum amount that will be contributed by the Trust is £100 a week, which will be solely towards the costs of nursing care, not accommodation or any personal care. To be eligible for the maximum amount of assistance, you must be paying the full cost of care yourself. If you are receiving help with some of the cost of your care from a local Trust, then you will get an amount to make the total amount of assistance to £100 a week.
In England, the situation is different: If you have been assessed as requiring 24 hour medical care, then your fees will be met in full by the NHS, which is called continuing NHS health care and is often described as 'fully funded care'. This is a controversial area, however, and recent reports have judged that some of the eligibility criteria were too narrow meaning some people were being inadequately assessed.
Wherever you live and whatever your circumstances, if you are considering long term care, it's highly recommended that you talk to both your solicitor and your independent financial adviser. All good independent advisers will be able to help you assess all your choices. By taking expert legal and financial advice you will make sure you have all the facts and that you don't get caught out by complex regulations.
1. BBC Northern Ireland 'On Your Behalf' Nursing Care Factsheet
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