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At the Age Concern Information and Advice Service we are sometimes approached by family members supporting an older relative, faced with a decision about residential care. As well as the prospect of having to leave their home, older people may be concerned about having to sell that which for many people is their biggest asset. While the government has set up a commission to consider how social care will be funded in the future, it is likely to be some time before any changes are made. Having some information about what the rules are now can help people consider their options.
It’s important to know that if your care needs are linked to an ongoing medical condition you may qualify for ‘Continuing Health Care’ and the NHS may fund your care. Unfortunately, there is not always consensus about whether a person’s needs are primarily health needs. Some families have had to seek legal representation to ensure a relative has received NHS Continuing Health Care funding. If you are not eligible for NHS funding, the local council will means test you to decide how much you should pay. Under the present system, the local council must follow government guidance ‘Charging for Residential Accommodation’, which is updated every April. If you have capital over a specified limit you will generally have to pay the full cost of your care. For the financial year 2010/2011 this figure is set at £23,250. As capital can include savings, investments and property, this may include the value of your home. However, if your husband, wife, or partner; a relative over 60; a working age adult who is eligible for a disability benefit; or one of your children under the age of 18 is still living in the property, its value will not be taken into account. Also, for the first twelve weeks in a residential home the value of the person’s own home will not be included in working out their contribution. This can allow time to decide whether the stay needs to be permanent.
The local council also operates a deferred payment scheme. If an application for deferred payments is accepted, the local council will pay the fees. This loan will then have to be repaid at a later date. However, people should be aware that interest can be charged on the amount of money owing starting from 56 days after the person’s death. There may also be other ways you can pay. For example, renting out your property might help you to pay the fees. However, it is advisable to take legal and/or financial advice and find out what options are available before making any decisions. This article is for general information only.
Age Concern has a legal clinic offering free specialist legal appointments. Please note, however, that it may not be possible for you to be seen at our legal clinic at short notice. If you are over 50, you can phone Age Concern Brighton, Hove and Portslade Information and Advice Service on 01273 720603, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.