The prospect of paying for care can be very worrying, especially as care costs and people’s life expectancy continue to increase. The rules and regulations surrounding care costs can be tricky to navigate and this is especially the case where the need for care has not been anticipated ahead of time.
Care needs assessment
If you need the assistance of a carer or feel that you might need to move into a care home, it is possible to ask the local authority for a care needs assessment. The local authority is obliged to carry out this assessment even if you are able to pay for the costs of care yourself. This assessment will establish what your needs are and how they should be met, whether at home or in a residential setting.
Local authority care means test
Once your needs have been established, the local authority will need to consider how your care will be paid for. This is determined by a means test. To do this, the local authority will need to carry out an assessment of your finances, including your capital and income.
What if my finances are above the means test threshold?
If your capital and income are above the relevant thresholds in the means test, you are unlikely to qualify for funding towards your care and will need to pay the costs yourself (‘self-funding’).
What if my finances are below the means test threshold?
However, if your finances are below the thresholds, you may qualify for either fully or partly funded care. If partly funded, you will need to pay a contribution from your own funds towards the costs. The local authority needs to leave you with a certain amount of income each week for your own expenses, once this contribution has been made.
If you need to pay for care yourself following the assessment and your funds subsequently fall to the relevant thresholds, the local authority should be contacted to request a fresh financial assessment.
Will my property be taken into account?
Many people worry about the local authority taking their property into account when carrying out the financial assessment, meaning that you would need to sell the property in order to pay your care costs yourself. Whether or not this happens will depend on a number of factors and there are exceptions. The position can also change depending on whether you are receiving care at home or in a care home.
Find out more
If you would like advice on this, please contact our dedicated vulnerable clients team.