Very few of us think about care costs until we need to pay for them. Without googling, do you know if you’d be entitled to state aid? What a nursing home near where you live costs? How the cost of live in care compares to sheltered housing rentals?
Planning early and knowing that you will have a pot of money set aside to cover your care takes the strain off your family and allows you peace of mind that you will be able to access the care options you both want and need when you are ready.
If you require ongoing care there are a number of options to cover part, or all, of your care costs. Not all benefits are means-tested, (the threshold is currently £23,250 in England) and you are not forced to move into a state-funded care home unless you want to.
If you require continual nursing care you may become eligible for the NHS continuing care package which will enable you to receive care in the community. This is only available in very specific cases and most people will not be dependant enough on specialist care to require it.
Two underclaimed benefits are Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit. Attendance Allowance is not means-tested and can be claimed after six months of illness. Pension Credit ensures that you have a basic income.
Local Authority Assessment
When the time comes to consider moving into a care or nursing home you can ask the local authority to perform an assessment. If they consider you can receive in home care then the value of your home will not be taken into account when determining your assets, however if you need to move to a residential facility you may have to use the value of your property to fund your care, however Local Authorities must offer a deferred payment scheme allowing you to pay for your care from your estate after death.
It is important to talk to a professional about your finances as early as possible. The Society of Later Life Advisers can point you in the direction of financial advisers that have particular expertise in the problems of saving for unknown care costs in the future.
Research your options
There are a number of options before you reach the stage of needing residential care. A daily carer visit is considerably cheaper and could be sufficient to allow you to retain your independence. Similarly, general gardeners and cleaners can be employed to ease daily live or you could pay for live-in care – a surprisingly affordable option when if you consider all the services such a carer would undertake.
If you decide you need to move into a home it is important to know what type of home you require: Sheltered housing or retirement flats, care homes and nursing homes all offer different levels of care and have different fees to reflect this. Research your options carefully before deciding on the home that is right for you and your budget.