When an older person starts to struggle with normal tasks of daily living, the preferred option is usually to arrange suitable care at home. Such care is referred to as Domiciliary Care and is designed to enables the individual to continue to live in his or her own home for as long as possible. Indeed the basic premise of both government and local authority thinking is to try and facilitate staying at home wherever possible providing it’s safe to do so.
There are three types of care at home.
1. Personal care, examples of which include: Washing and dressing, help with toileting, meal preparation, aiding with mobility
2. Domestic help in and around the home, which includes cleaning, laundry and help with shopping.
3. Medical help in the home including changing dressings and administering medication.
The amount of care delivered by the Local Authority will vary depending on your needs and will be determined by a Social Services care assessment. It will regularly take the form of regular pop in visits, but increasingly due to budgetary constraints these may only last for 15 or 30 minutes and frequency will depend upon the level of need assessed, but once again is unlikely to total much more than 3 hours a day.
Once again due to financial constraints, increasingly such care is no longer provided by local authority employed carers but is now outsourced to appointed care agencies, or you are offered a weekly cash equivalent - called a personal budget or direct payment - for you to source your own care.
Any such care or personal budget is not however, offered to everyone. First they will carry out a needs assessment to determine what level and how much care you need and each local authority has set their own minimum standard before they will help, with most authorities now only helping people who have substantial needs, but this does vary so you should check with your own local authority’s social services department. Then they will carry out a means test to see if you could pay for your own care, or at least contribute towards it.
If your local authority deems you need support and care in your own home, they will draw up a care plan and will also assess your income to see if you need to make a contribution towards the cost – a so called means test.
Whilst there is no national rules for when local authorities charge for domiciliary care services (unlike means testing for care in a care home), In England most are now following the same guidelines as laid down for paying for care in a care home as detailed by the Care Act. As the Care Act only applies to England the following is a description of how local authorities assess your means in England and different rules may apply in Scotland or Wales.)
Step 1: First they will look at your savings/capital/assets (but not the value of your home as you are still going to live in it) and if your assessable capital exceeds just £23,250 (England 2016/17) whilst they would help arrange any care required, you would be expected to pay for it yourself - at least until your savings fell below the limit. However some services like the district nurse would still be provided free of charge as these are part of the NHS.
Step 2: Even if your capital is less than £23,250 (England 2016/17), they look at your income (including any state benefits you may be entitled to but not yet claiming and also “notional” or theoretical income they derive you could get from any savings greater than £14,250 (England 2016/17) at a rate of £1 per week extra income for every £250 of capital greater than £14,250), to see if your total income is greater than the amount the Government deems anyone needs to live on – a so called “Minimum Income Guarantee” or “Protected Income”. Notionally this protected income is set each year in line with the basic amount of Pension Credit plus 25%, but can be increased to allow for disability and extra health related expenditure that’s deemed necessary.
So as the current weekly rate (2016/17) for Guaranteed Pension credit for a single person is £155.60 this currently gives a protected amount of income of £194.50(2016/17) (without any allowances being made for extra necessary expenditure or disability).
Step 3: If you income exceeds this protected amount they expect you to pay a % of this difference towards the cost of the care provided (or it reduces the amount of any direct payment or personal budget awarded).
Should your capital exceed the Upper Capital threshold (£23,250 - England 2016/17), or simply want more care than your Local Authority assesses you need, the only alternative is for you to pay for your own care.
One option which could be looked at to help limit the total cost of such long term domiciliary care is to purchase an immediate needs care fees funding plan.
which could be paid directly to your chosen care provider and would be tax free if your care provider is a registered provider.
If you don't already have sufficient liquid savings to consider buying such an annuity or even continuing to pay your carers, but own your own home you could consider releasing some equity from your home to provide the necessary funds. To find out more information about equity release visit equity release.
To get your free quote for a care fees funding plan, complete our simple care fee funding quotation request form and one of our consultants will call you to discuss in more details. You may also like to view and download our free guide to care fee funding plans here.
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