It is vitally important to have an understanding of long term care when you have the responsibility of looking after a vulnerable person. Unfortunately, as in all industries and professions, there is a lot of jargon to understand. In this blog, I will explain to you in simple terms how to give your vulnerable relative, friend or acquaintance the best possible care at the most value for money price based on the needs and wishes of the resident.
When somebody needs care then there are essentially four options available.
- Residential care home.
- Nursing home.
- Domiciliary care.
- Free care.
Residential care home
A residential care home provides accommodation and 24-hour personal care and support to the elderly and others who may find it difficult to manage daily life at home. To qualify to stay in such a home the individual is means-tested which means that if their income and/or capital exceed certain limits then they may have to pay a proportion of the fees or even 100% of the fees. The carers are not usually NHS nurses and doctors but trained carers. Residential care funding is provided by the local authority.
If the resident has savings of more than £23,500 in England they will usually have to pay towards their care costs. Eligible income is also taken into account to pay for fees.
Nursing homes, which are sometimes referred to as residential nursing homes or care homes with nursing, have qualified nurses and care assistants to provide nursing care in addition to residential care. If the resident qualified for NHS Continuing Healthcare then both the accommodation and the care are non-means tested and provided for free by the NHS. It is a difficult process to qualify because the resident has to be in constant need of care 24-7 and attended by nurses and doctors. Nonetheless, it is critical to understand that care can be 100% free of charge on the NHS.
Domiciliary care is the range of services put in place to support an individual in their own home and is available to those that require additional support with day-to-day household tasks, personal care or any other activity that allows them to maintain their quality of life and independent living. Such care may be provided either privately or by the local authority.
Free care is usually care provided by relatives of the vulnerable person in their own home or in the home of their carer/s.
Financing care costs
There are numerous ways to fund care costs so it is very important to do your research and/or take advice from a professional. There are a number of charities such as Age Concern which will give you free advice. You can ask the local authority for free advice too. You can conduct your own research.
If seeking advice from a financial adviser you should look for one who is a SOLLA-accredited member. SOLLA is the Society of Later Life Advisers https://societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk/ Members are qualified financial advisers who have been assessed and passed the assessment by SOLLA. Such members have to pass assessments every five years. The assessments are rigorous and it is not a given that a member will pass a future assessment.
Ideally, you should choose an Independent Financial Adviser who is currently a SOLLA member and one who is fees based so not reliant on earning commissions for selling financial products because the advice has to be holistic and free from product bias.
This is a tricky one because the benefits system is complex and confusing. However, you must ensure you claim all benefits that are available, especially the Attendance Allowance. Some benefits are means-tested and some are not. Best to take advice from the SOLLA-certified IFA and/or a charity or your local authority if you are unsure.
Ideally, the person needing care already has an up-to-date Will in place, both types of Lasting Power of Attorney or at least an Enduring Power of Attorney and possibly an Advanced Directive or Living Will.
If the carers do not have Lasting or Enduring Powers of Attorney they will have to apply to the Court of Protection to become appointed as Deputies. Someone can apply to become somebody else’s deputy if they ‘lack mental capacity’. This means they cannot make a decision for themselves at the time it needs to be made. They may still be able to make decisions for themselves at certain times.
As you can see it is vital to have an understanding of long term care because without this knowledge you may be paying too much for care and/or not claiming enough benefits so proper research and advice from the right sources are invaluable. You know it makes sense.*
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing. The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. The information contained within this blog is for guidance only and does not constitute advice which should be sought before taking any action or inaction. All information is based on our current understanding of taxation, legislation, regulations and case law in the current tax year. Any levels and bases of relief from taxation are subject to change. Tax treatment is based on individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future. This blog is based on my own observations and opinions.