When the council might pay for your care
You might be eligible for the local council to pay towards the cost of your care if you have less than £23,250 in savings.
Exactly how much your council will pay depends on what care you need and how much you can afford to pay.
Find out if the local council will pay towards your care
The first step is for your council to do an assessment to check how much help you need. This is called a needs assessment.
The needs assessment is free, and anyone can ask for one. Find out more about getting a needs assessment.
If you need care, the council will then do a financial assessment (means test) to work out what you will have to pay towards the cost of your care.
The means test works out if:
• the council pays the full cost of your care
• the council pays some of the cost and you pay the rest
• you pay for all your care
The financial assessment is free. You do not need to book it – it will be arranged for you after your needs assessment. Read more about the financial assessment.
How the council pays for and arranges your care
If the council is going to pay towards your care, you will get a personal budget.
The amount will be worked out when the council makes a care and support plan with you.
You can choose to get your personal budget in 3 ways, as:
• a direct payment into your bank account each month for you to pay for your care – the council will usually ask for receipts to see you are spending your money on care
• the council arranges and pays for your care for you
• a mixed personal budget – the council arranges some of your care and you arrange and pay for the rest with a personal budget
You can speak to someone for advice on personal budgets by calling the Disability Rights UK Helpline free on 0330 995 0404.
If the council is arranging your care, you still have the right to decide how your personal budget is spent.
If you need to live in a care home, you have the right to choose where you live. The council must give you at least one affordable choice. Some councils have a list of homes they recommend.
If you choose a care home that is more expensive than your personal budget, a relative or friend can pay the difference (this is called a top up fee). They will have to sign an agreement with the council and care home which sets out the costs, how often they must be paid, and what will happen if they can no longer make the payment.
If you are not happy with the type of paid home help the council suggests, you can look for services the council provides and ask them to change it if they can.
What you can get for free
There are some services the council must provide free of charge if you’ve been assessed as needing them. These services are not means-tested, and it does not matter what your income is. These include:
• small bits of equipment or home adaptations that each cost less than £1,000
• care after you have been discharged from hospital – this is a mix of social care and support with help from NHS staff
Paying for your own care (self-funding)
You will not be entitled to help with the cost of care from your local council if:
• you have savings worth more than £23,250
• you own your own property (this only applies if you are moving into a care home)
You can ask your council for a financial assessment (means test) to check if you qualify for any help with costs.
You can choose to pay for care yourself if you do not want a financial assessment.
How to arrange your care as a self-funder
• arrange and pay for care yourself without involving the council
• ask the council to arrange and pay for your care (the council will then bill you, but not all councils offer this service, and they may charge a fee)
Find out what care you need
Even if you choose to pay for your care, your council can do an assessment to check what care you might need. This is called a needs assessment.
For example, it will tell you whether you need home help from a paid carer for 2 hours a day or 2 hours a week and precisely what they should help you with.
The needs assessment is free, and anyone can ask for one.
How much will care cost?
Social care can be expensive. Knowing how much you will have to pay will help you budget.
Paying for carers at home
A typical hourly rate for a carer to come to your home is around £20, but this will vary depending on where you live.
Having a carer who lives with you costs from around £650 a week. But it can cost as much as £1,600 a week if you need a lot of care.
Paying for a care home
There are 2 types of care home:
• residential homes have staff that help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed and supply all your meals
• nursing homes also offer 24-hour nursing care
The price will vary according to where you live and the type of care you need.
For example, serious health problems like dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can increase the cost.
Benefits can help with care costs
You may be eligible for benefits, like Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which are not means-tested. You can use them to pay towards the cost of your care.
Can I avoid selling my home?
You will not have to sell your home to pay for help in your own home, but you may have to sell your home to pay for a care home, unless your partner carries on living in it.
Sometimes selling your home to pay care home fees is the best option.
But there may be other ways to pay care home fees if you do not want to sell your home straight away.
Releasing money from your home (equity release)
Equity release lets you take money that is tied up in your home without selling it. It is available if you are over 55, but you have to pay interest on the money you take out, which can be expensive.
Renting out your home
You can rent out your home and use the income to help pay your care home fees.
A deferred payment scheme
A deferred payment scheme can be useful if you have savings less than £23,250 and all your money is tied up in your property.
The council pays for your care home and you repay it later when you choose to sell your home, or after your death.
Ask your council if you are eligible for a deferred payment scheme.
You can get unbiased expert advice from a specialist care fees adviser.
They will help you compare all your options before you decide what is right for you.
Get advice on paying for care from:
• Age UK on freephone 0800 169 6565
• Independent Age on freephone 0800 319 6789
• Money Advice Service on freephone 0800 138 7777
(Article originally posted on www.nhs.uk)