The well-publicised cost of residential care home fees is daunting. The average weekly cost of a place in a residential home in England approximately £530, and a place in a nursing home around £730 per week. Almost half of the people currently in residential homes are fully self-funded and just over one-third are fully local authority funded. The rules around funding for residential care are based on a complicated means-tested system. Some people with complex medical needs receive free NHS Continuing Care, but most will have to have a financial assessment.
Local Authorities have a responsibility to arrange residential care for everyone who is assessed as needing it and is unable to make their own arrangements, financially or practically. They also have a responsibility to contribute to the cost of care for people who fit their eligibility criteria and cannot afford to fund themselves. You can top up agreed local authority support if necessary and if you are able to do so.
Care Home Fees: Needs Assessment
Regardless of your elderly parent’s financial situation, the first step is to get a needs assessment from the local social services department. This will provide a professional assessment of the type of care required in a written care plan. The plan may recommend residential care or alternatives if they assess that your relatives needs can be met at home.
Care Home Fees and Savings
If your relative has savings worth more than £23,250 (in England and Northern Ireland), £26,000 in Scotland or £23,750 in Wales or a weekly income high enough to pay for care home fees, they will not be eligible for local authority funding. The home is not included in these calculations if one of them is remaining in it. It is important to know that even if your parent is self-funding their care home, they may still be able to claim Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independent Payment.
To check eligibility for local authority funding the money advice service website is very helpful.
Should the unthinkable happen, and your parent’s savings start to run out below the capital limit, they then become eligible for local authority funding. However, funding will only be available for residential provision for assessed needs, so it is really important to get a needs assessment done before choosing a care home even if your parents are self-funding their care. If they choose a care home that meets the needs in the care plan, they are more likely to get funding should their financial situation change in the future – so they may well not have to move homes if that ever became an issue.
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