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Paying for care FAQs

What does ‘self-funding’ mean?

Self-funding is where you fund your personal care or social care needs from your own resources. If you have savings and assets valued over the threshold amount set by the government, you will be required to pay the care home fees from your own funds until your wealth reduces to the threshold set.  After this point, social services will carry out a financial assessment to calculate the amount of contribution they will put towards your care.

How would a care home place be funded if I can’t pay for care myself (and don’t have any assets)

If, after conducting both the social/healthcare needs assessment and the financial means test a local authority agrees that a person is eligible for weekly contributions they will then look to pay a published maximum contribution to the weekly care costs on behalf of the person needing care.

From the maximum weekly amount available it is usual for local authorities to deduct any private income the care recipient has.

If a person is awarded local authority contributions of say £550 but wishes to live in a care home costing more, it isn’t unusual for a family member to be asked to make up the difference. This is done through a “third party top up agreement” and generally needs the approval of the local authority.   

What is a top up?

A top up (also known as a third party top up agreement) may be payable to the care home when there is a gap between the contributions awarded by a local authority and the fee that the care home or nursing home is charging each week. It isn’t unusual for the family to be asked to bridge the gap. This may need the approval of the local authority.

The care home’s Terms and Conditions will make the circumstances around top ups clear.

What benefits can you claim when living in a care home (for private funders and publicly funded residents)?

  • NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC)
    • although it is subject to strict eligibility/assessment criteria it is not financially means-tested
  • Funded Nursing Care (FNC)
    • You need to be residing in a registered nursing home to be awarded this.
    • It isn’t financially means tested
  • Personal Care Allowance (Scotland only)
    • Available to Scottish residents aged 65 and over
    • It isn’t means tested
  • Attendance Allowance [stops after 28 days for publically funded residents]
    • Available to people 65 and over
    • It isn’t means-tested
  • Personal Independence Payment, paid to those people under state retirement age

Do I need to sell a jointly owned house/property to pay for care home fees

There are two distinctly different answers to this question which will fundamentally depend on whether the property in question is the main residence of the person needing care.

If it is and the person sharing the ownership and living in it meets the exclusion criteria then no the property will not be included in the capital means-test assessment.

To help clarify the situation, a person’s home is not included in the means test if:

  • the spouse or partner still resides there
  • a relative aged 60 or over lives at the house
  • a disabled relative lives at the house
  • a dependent child aged 18 or under lives there
  • the person is in the first twelve weeks of needing permanent care
  • the care is being provided on a temporary basis

However, if the property isn’t a main (only) residence and/or the joint owner of a main resident is excluded from the eligibility list then it is possible that the value owned by the person needing care would be included.

Whether it needs to be sold to fund care fees will ultimately depend on the overall financial situation of the care recipient.         

Is there an eligibility criterion for funding and is this available for families?  

As the various payments are made from differing departments each individual allowance/payment/benefit has its own set of published eligibility criteria and these are all readily available.

One of the most complex assessment processes relates to Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC).

By far the most comprehensive and complex document is the one covering the various roles played by the local authorities, which includes all the information on how all assessments (health, social and financial) are based. 

Here are some useful links that cover in more detail the eligibility criteria:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/money-work-and-benefits/nhs-funded-nursing-care/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/healthcare/

https://www.gov.scot/publications/free-personal-nursing-care-qa

https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance/eligibility 

https://www.gov.uk/pip/eligibility

Advice about paying for care

It’s important to get professional advice on the best way to fund the cost of care and we suggest that you take advice from a care fees expert to make sure that you have explored all the options available to you. 

In order to make life easier we have contacted a national care fees planning specialist, Symponia, who are dedicated to the financial issues of later life, in particular the payment of care fees. Read more about how Symponia can help you and download their helpful handbook.

All information contained in this page was correct as at 20/4/22* 

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