A Guide to Understanding Care Costs
Understanding when and how much you will need to pay for care can be daunting, read this simple guide to find out about care costs and what steps you need to take.
If you’re in hospital or have just been discharged, then you may need temporary care at home to help you regain your independence. This type of care is often referred to as Reablement Care and most people receive free support for one or two weeks after leaving hospital however it can be available for up to six weeks depending on your care needs.
To arrange for reablement whilst in hospital, ask to speak to a discharge coordinator who will help you decide what kind of support you need. If your already at home then contact your local adult social services team.
What happens if I still need care after six weeks?
The reablement team will discuss your ongoing care needs with you and then refer you to your local adult social care team who will support you to organise in-home care.
Elderly care or social care isn’t usually free and most people have to pay for care or make a contribution to the cost of care. The amount you pay depends on your assets and the level of your care needs. Get an assessment of your needs from your local council and this will decide the level of support you are entitled to.
Following the assessment of needs, the council will do a financial means test to work out how much you may need to pay for care.
Currently, if your capital is above £23,250 then you may have to pay care fees in full. If you have less than this, then you may still have to contribute towards care fees.
Income such as disability benefits may not be assessed in the means test but all other income is taken into account. Ensure that you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to as the means test will assume you are even if you’re not.
The local council will look at your income including savings and property to work out how much you can contribute to the cost of your care. If you are arranging for home care then the means test will not include the value of your property.
If you are moving to a permanent care home, then the test includes the value of your property unless:
· your partner still lives there
· you have a relative aged over 60 living there
· a disabled relative or a child under 18 years lives there
If you have joint savings with another person then this will be divided between you both for the purposes of the assessment.
If you are moving into a care home permanently then the council will only assess the value of your property after a 12-week period. This is to give you time to decide what to do with your property and paying care fees. Your property will be included in the means test at its present value less any mortgage or loan you may have on it. The council undertaking the means test cannot assume that you have equal ownership with another person on your property although you will need evidence to support this.
Some people consider giving their home away to avoid it being counted in the means test however this can count as deliberate “deprivation of assets” meaning you would still have to pay the same level of care fees.
Deferred payment agreements
If your home is included in a means test then you may be able to delay selling it by entering into a “deferred payment agreement” with the local council. This is a legal agreement between you and the council where the council agrees to pay the care fees on the condition that you will re-pay them when the property is sold at a later date. This agreement (known as a DPA) can last until you die or can be a temporary arrangement to give you time to sell your property.
Paying for care can be complex so we suggest contacting your local Age UK for further advice. Join our discussion about care costs in our Facebook group Care Begins at Home for ongoing advice and support from experts.