Specialist advisors for the over 60s
Your privacy guaranteed
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Here are a few points to bear in mind if you’re starting to plan for your long-term care.
If you are thinking about moving into a care home, the first step is to contact your local council social services department and ask for an assessment of your needs, even if you may be able to pay for your care privately. If your local council agrees that you need to move into a care home, you may get help towards the cost of your care home fees.
Once you have asked for an assessment, someone from the social services department should visit you to discuss your personal situation. This should include things like your health, how you are currently managing at home and what sort of help you need. It is usually a good idea to have someone with you, such as a relative or friend, when you have the assessment.
Make a note of what you want to say in advance. For example, you might want to move to a different area to be near relatives, or live somewhere where you can keep your pet. The assessment must take into account your own wishes, so don’t be afraid of saying what you think. If you have a carer, they are entitled to an assessment of their needs too.
Many people find it helpful to get advice before their assessment. [HELP THE AGED] gives some guidance in [their] advice leaflet Help in Your Home or call SeniorLine on 0808 800 6565 (0808 808 7575 in Northern Ireland).
You have the right to a care assessment no matter what your ability is to pay for the care you may need. If you are not offered an assessment, you have a right to complain under the council's social services complaints procedure. To get a care assessment you should contact your council. Find the address and phone number of your local council on the DirectGov website. You are also entitled to an assessment if you are a carer.
Once you have been assessed, your local council may suggest that the best way to meet your care needs is for you to move into a care home. If this is the case, your local council has a responsibility to arrange and pay for your care – unless you are able to do so yourself.
1. Make a list of your most important features for a care home, think about what you like and don’t like. If you are finding a care home for a relative, think about their preferences – remember, they are the person who will be living there.
2. Check that you know what level of care your relative needs . If their condition is likely to deteriorate quickly, consider looking at dual registered homes.
3. Check how it will be funded. If you are unsure, ask for advice from your allocated social worker or ring social services for advice. Other organizations like Age Concern are really helpful for giving advice. You will need to know this as social services will only fund to a certain level depending on the assessment they have carried out - for example it would be a waste of your time to view a home that costs £1000 per week if the funding available is only £500, unless you are in a position to pay the difference. If you are paying privately, remember to check what would happen if your relative becomes unable to pay for themselves. Ask “Do they have to move?”
4. Think about where the location of the home should be - can family and friends visit easily? You can get a list of homes from yourcarehome.co.uk or your social services department.
5. Ring the homes you would like to view and get as much information as you can and ask for a brochure to be sent. Check the home can cater for any special needs you or your relative has, so you don't waste your time visiting homes that can not provide the level of care you need.
6. Make a short list of homes to view. 3 - 4 is a good starting point.
7. Visit the home without making an appointment as this will give you a good idea about what the home is really like. Make notes on each home and take photos if possible, to help you make your decision later.
8. If the home is for an elderly relative, bring them to view the home if possible, or include them in as much of the decision making process as possible.
We have compiled this printable, fully detailed checklist to take with you when you view a care home - it covers all the areas which can be forgotten during a visit but which can often help you decide between one care home and another.
9. Once you have decided on a home, find out out about availability then contact your social worker if you have one and make them aware of your choice.
10. Next you need to ask the home to assess your relative. All homes are required to do a pre-admission assessment to ensure they can meet the persons needs. (This may not happen until the home has a vacancy.) Once the home has made the assessment and if applicable the trial visit has taken place, arrange a moving in date.
Understand the care home contract
All self-funding care home residents are entitled to a written contract clearly setting out the terms and conditions of their stay. It is very important to study your contract before moving in. Make sure you are clear about which services are included in your fees and what are extras, and which incur additional costs.
If you are funded by the local authority the contract will be between the care home and the local authority. You are still entitled to a written statement of your terms and conditions.
Inevitably, financial arrangements are an important part of the contract. Make sure you are clear about the fees that you or your relatives will have to pay. The contract should also set out any payments required if you go into hospital.
Many people don’t claim benefits when they move into care. So it’s worth making sure you know about all the benefits you are entitled to. They include:
Attendance Allowance A tax-free allowance that is not means-tested. If you need care by day or by night, you’re entitled to the lower rate of £47.10* per week. If you need care both day and night, you’re entitled to the higher rate of £70.35* per week. This is available if you are funding your own care
Pension Credit You may be able to claim Pension Credit with the Attendance Allowance while your property is on the market. To estimate how much credit you may be entitled to, use the calculator on the Directgov website.
NHS continuing healthcare This is a package of care arranged and funded entirely by the NHS to meet physical and/or mental health needs that have arisen as a result of disability, accident or illness. The care can be provided in a care home, your own home or a hospice
NHS registered nursing care contribution If you need nursing care and you’re moving into a care home that provides nursing care , you may be eligible to receive this non means tested contribution to your care costs. It is a flat rate payment of £106.30 per week*.
*figures apply to 2009/2010
Council Tax If you move into a care home and your property is left empty, then you should receive full exemption from Council Tax until it's sold. If your partner remains in the home, they can change their status to single person occupancy for Council Tax purposes at their local council offices.
If the property is occupied by your spouse or partner, it will not be included in a means-test.
Ownership Make sure you and your spouse (partner) own your property as tenants in common rather than a joint tenancy. This will allow you to make a Will, which means that when one partner dies, their share of the house goes to the beneficiaries named in their Will [often the children].
Otherwise, the deceased partner’s share of the property passes automatically to the partner in care where it will form part of the surviving partner’s assessable income and it will be used to fund any residential care they may need.
12-week property disregard The property is disregarded for 12 weeks from the moment that somebody permanently enters residential care. A person is eligible for this disregard if, after carrying out an assessment, the council confirms that an applicant is in need of permanent residential accommodation and takes over the arrangements for it or an applicant does not have income or other assets sufficient to cover the costs of care.
Ensure your property is correctly insured and secured when vacant, the plumbing system has been drained down and the garden maintained. Finally your possessions will need to be dealt with; think about what you would like to take with you and what could go to family members, auction or house clearance.
Talking to a specialist adviser about your care options and how you can pay for them will be invaluable – especially if you’re keen to stay financially independent and perhaps leave a legacy.
Cap your care costs
If the idea of capping the cost of your care appeals to you, you may want to consider buying products such as a care fees payment plan. This is a special type of insurance policy (an Annuity) designed specifically to help meet the lifelong cost of your care, in exchange for a one-off premium payment. These annuities tend to offer a higher level of guaranteed income than you can normally expect from a standard annuity, as they are based on your specific state of health. The annuity is also paid directly to your care provider, on a tax-free basis.
Organise a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
If you haven’t already done so, you should make sure you have a LPA in place. If you appoint a property and financial affairs LPA, it will enable the people you appoint to make financial decisions on your behalf such as selling your house or managing your bank account if you become incapable of making these kind of decisions yourself - or do not wish to do so.
You should also consider whether to make a health and welfare LPA. This is for decisions about both health and personal welfare, such as where to live, day-to-day care or having medical treatment.
If you become unable to make decisions for yourself and you haven’t got a LPA, then your family will have to go through a lengthy legal process before they are lawfully entitled to act on your behalf.In this situation, it would be the court that chooses who has the power to make decisions about your life.
Call me back
If you are unable to call
one of our advisors, then
we can call you back to
discuss legal and