15 Apr How to apply for local authority funding for long term care
We all hope we’ll never find ourselves in a situation where we need to pay for long-term care.
However, with many of us surviving well into our 80s, 90s and beyond, it’s inevitable that we, or someone we know, will need to pay for ongoing healthcare and support later in life.
When writing their will, many of my clients have burning questions regarding the rules and regulations surrounding long-term care fees. So, to help you get to grips with the process, I’ve outlined the key things you need to know about applying for care funding in the UK.
First of all – will you be eligible for financial support from the government?
Some individuals and their families will be eligible to receive long term care funding from the state.
In order to qualify for funding for care costs from your local authority in England, you’ll usually need to prove that the value of your savings and assets doesn’t exceed £23,250. This figure differs slightly in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
However, you do have a legal right to a care needs assessment, even if you are better off financially.
If you own assets worth over £23,250, you will need to pay for all of your care fees.
If you own assets worth between £14,250 and £23,250, normally the council will pay for some of your care and you’ll need to find the rest.
If your capital is less than £14,250, the local council will pay for your care in full.
The local authority care needs assessment
Before your local council can release any funds whatsoever, they will need to carry out what’s known as a care needs assessment. This allows them to identify your care needs and check that they meet a certain range of criteria.
If the care needs assessment proves that you qualify for help, the government has a legal obligation to provide the care services you need. If they can’t, they need to arrange for you to receive support from a third-party provider.
It is also possible to complete a care needs self-assessment online. This will be considered in the same way as a council-led assessment, but you may need to answer more questions in order to move on to the next stage: your financial assessment.
Undergoing a financial assessment
Once the council have established that you have a requirement for care, they will carry out a financial assessment, otherwise known as a ‘means test’. This will help them determine exactly how much you should be paying towards your care costs, based on your income, assets and the severity of your condition.
There are three possible outcomes to the assessment:
- The authority will agree to cover all of your care costs
- They will agree to cover some of the fees, and you’ll be expected to cover the difference
- They will refuse to cover any costs, and you will need to pay for the care yourself.
If you ARE eligible for care funding, the government will set up what’s called a personal care budget for you. This is designed to help you, and them, keep track of your care costs.
At this point, you can either ask your local authority to arrange care on your behalf; ask to receive direct payments from the council that can then be used towards care costs; or ask someone else you trust to manage your budget and organise care services for you.
If the council come to the conclusion that you are not eligible for any care funding whatsoever, you can challenge their decision. There is, however, no guarantee the outcome will be different upon review, unless your circumstances change significantly.
Even if you don’t qualify for long term care funding, you may be entitled to claim some benefits. You should ask the council to assess your eligibility for an Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance. The latter will soon be called a Personal Independence Payment.
Could you be eligible for NHS continuing care funding?
You may qualify for NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) if you have a particularly complex disability or illness that requires ongoing medical attention.
Lots of people don’t know about this scheme, which is essentially a package of healthcare solutions that’s supplied and funded by the National Health Service. It’s worth making an enquiry with your authority, as if you are eligible for CHC, you could save thousands of pounds a year on ongoing care costs.
How much can you expect to pay for care?
The overall cost of long-term care really depends on the state of your health and the type of support you need.
For example, if you need around-the-clock care, you can expect to pay anything from £600 to £800 per week to be placed in a care home or nursing home. This equates to between £2,400 and £3,200 per week. As you can imagine, the costs can quickly stack up, which is why it’s so important to ensure you’re receiving as much from your local authority as possible for someone in your medical and financial circumstances.
Homecare, otherwise known as domiciliary care, is often more affordable – as is respite care, which is designed to help either carers who need a break from their care duties, or individuals who need time to recover after an operation or an illness.
In either case, the more funding you receive from the government, the less financial strain your long-term care needs will place on you and your family.
If you’re still unclear as to how the application process works, or you feel you need additional advice surrounding your rights, take a look at The Money Advice Service website, which goes into more detail about how to apply for funding via your local government.