Thinking about paying for your own care?

Posted on: 02 November 2017 by 50connect editorial

Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, offers advice on what to think about if you need to pay for your own care.

Saving for care

Understand the lingo

The social care system uses a lot of jargon, so it can help to familiarise yourself with what the various words and phrases mean. For example, if you are paying for all of your care yourself you may be referred to as a self-funder. Our guide - Paying for your care - has a useful list of terms.

Involve your council

Speak to your local council about getting a free care needs assessment. Even if you think you will have to pay for your own care, this will help you to decide what type of care you need. After this, the council can carry out a financial assessment to check whether you qualify for any help to pay for your care. It’s worth knowing that the financial assessment works differently depending on whether you need care in your own home or in a care home.

Decide on home care or a care home

Your care needs assessment will help you make a decision about your care and help you work out what’s best for you. This will largely depend on your needs, but your wishes should also be considered. It’s important to know what the pros and cons of each type of care are, as well as the possible costs, so that you can make the right decision for you.

Research the costs

Costs vary hugely, depending on whether you need care at home or in care home, where you live, and the type and amount of care you need. For home care, costs also depend on what time of day you need care at and whether you’re employing a carer through an agency or directly. Make sure you know what the costs are and what is included in them, before you sign a contract.

Don’t give away assets to avoid paying for care

You might be tempted to give away money or property so your income or capital drops and the council has to pay towards your care. However, this could have serious consequences. When the council carries out a financial assessment it can look at assets you previously owned as well as what you own now. If it decides you deprived yourself of assets to avoid paying for care, it can treat you as still owning those assets and include their value in your financial assessment.

Check if the NHS can pay

If you have particularly complex health and care needs, you might qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, which means the NHS will arrange and fully fund all of your care, whether at home, in a care home, or in a hospice. Speak to your GP to see if they think it’s worth you having an assessment for this.

Seek financial advice

If you are paying for care yourself, make sure you get independent financial advice from a specialist adviser who holds a relevant qualification showing they understand the care and support system in the UK – they should have a CF8 or CeLTCI qualification.  

Explore different payment options

Long-term care can be very expensive, and there are a number of ways to finance it. Make sure you know the difference between different payment plans, or releasing money from your home or renting, for example, to work out which option is the best for you.

Be aware of your financial situation

Make sure you let your council know if your financial situation changes. If your capital drops below the threshold of £23,250, you will be able to ask the council for financial assistance. You will need to ask for a financial assessment to determine what you’re entitled to. It’s a good idea to do this about three months before your finances reach that level. You should also let the council know if your capital increases.

Get expert social care advice

Navigating the social care system can be incredibly complicated, so make sure you speak to an expert if you’re struggling. 

For further information or to speak with an adviser, visit Independent Age

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