Paying for care in a care home

Moving to live in a care home is probably more complicated than any other home move, yet is often arranged at a time of crisis.

This quick guide aims to help understand what financial support might be available to help you cover the cost of care in a care home.

Sources of funding for care in a care home usually come from three main sources:

  • Your local authority/council
  • The NHS
  • You (self-funding)

Assessing your care and support needs

Before exploring how to pay for care in a care home, it is important to confirm whether you require a care home. If you are unsure of your needs then you may wish to request an assessment from the Adult Social Care department of your local authority, this must be provided free of charge. Your social worker will work with you to recommend a package of care that will meet your needs, this may be a combination of services to help you stay at home or they might suggest that a move to a care home is necessary.

Am I eligible for help with the cost of my care home?

The simple rule here is that if you have more than £23,250 in savings or other capital assets then you are likely to have to meet the cost of care yourself. Note that any property you have an interest in will be taken into account, unless it is still occupied by a spouse, partner or a relative over the age of 60.

This figure is £50,000 in Wales and £28,000 in Scotland.

The exception to this rule is if you have complex health needs that require frequent medical intervention, to the point where you are deemed to have a ‘primary health need’, in which case the NHS may meet your care costs through Continuing Healthcare Funding. If you feel that this may describe your circumstances, contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for further information.

What help is available to self-funders?

If you have more than £23,250 of your own savings then you are likely to be classed as a ‘self-funder’. The first thing you may wish to do is check that you are receiving all the State Benefits that are available to you. Attendance Allowance is a non means-tested benefit for people over 65 who are in need of supervision or support and you can claim it even if you are a resident in a care home, so long as you are meeting the cost yourself.

Another option is to seek Independent Financial Advice to explore any products that may be available to help you meet the cost of your care. Immediate Need Care Fee Payment Plans, commonly referred to as Care Annuities, can provide you with a regular income to use on care in exchange for a lump sum payment. The Society for Later Life Advisors (SOLLA) can help you find IFAs in your area that specialise in this area, read more on their website.

What will my council pay towards my care?

If you have less than £23,250 then it is likely your local authority will contribute towards the cost of your home care services. The exact amount will depend on your income and any savings you have between £14,250 and £23,250. The council have to ensure you are left with at least £24.90 per week as a ‘Personal Expenses Allowance’ for incidentals. You are usually expected to contribute any income above this figure towards the cost of your care.

The council will only pay what they feel is necessary to meet your care needs. If you choose a care home that is more expensive than is necessary to meet your needs, they may refuse to meet the full cost. In these circumstances you will be asked to find a ‘third party top-up’, a family member or friend who is prepared to cover the shortfall. However, this can be hundreds of pounds every week and it may therefore not be possible to find someone to cover this cost.

Where you are asked for a third party top-up, it is advisable to ask the council to demonstrate how your needs could be met without the need for a top-up. The council must be able to show you at least one care home, that meets your care needs, and does not require a third party top-up. If they are unable to do so, they must increase the amount they are willing to pay until they can find a care home that does meet your needs.

Couples and care home funding

If only one member of a couple is moving into a care home and the other is remaining at home, then the value of the property, if it is owned, will be ignored from the financial assessment of the person requiring a care home.

In addition, any private or occupational pensions that are paid to the person moving into the care home can be passed back to their spouse. Please note that couples who are not married or in a civil partnership are not able to pass their pensions back in this way.

Finally, if the person remaining at home has been reliant on their partner’s income and capital to meet their day-to-day living costs then they should ask the Adult Social Care team to provide them with a full benefits check, to ensure they have sufficient income to live on.