Skip to content
Search Our Website 01273 609911 Martin Searle Solicitors - logo

Martin Searle Solicitors

FAQs: Paying For Care Fees

Paying for care is something that many people will face at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the rules around who is eligible for care funding, and how to apply for care funding, can be very complicated. Here are some commonly asked questions that are often put to our specialist Community Care team.

  1. 1. I thought the NHS paid for all care from cradle to grave – so why am I being asked to pay care fees?
  2. 2. I have been told that I will get NHS Funded Nursing Care. What is that?
  3. 3. I am eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare and want to stay in my own home; can I?
  4. Social Services say I am a “self funder”. What does this mean?
  5. If my savings are less than £23,250, do Social Services pay for my care fees in full?
  6. Social Services told me I have to pay my wife’s care home fees. Is this right?
  7. Social Services told me to cash in my Life Assurance Policy to pay for my care, but my Financial Adviser said it was protected. Who is right?
  8. Social Services told me I have to sell the family home to pay for my care. Is this right?
  9. I’m going into care and my home is occupied by another relative. Do I have to sell?
  10. I don’t want to have to sell my home to pay for care fees: what else can I do?
  11. I have been told I am going into interim care for 6 weeks. Do I have to pay?
  12. I have been in hospital and intend to go home but have been told I need to go into a convalescent home to get better first. It could be for up to 6 months. Do I need to sell my home?
  13. I am going into permanent care and have been assessed as a “self-funder”. When do I start having to pay?
  14. My care fees will be part-funded by Social Services. However my family have found me a home that is more expensive than the ones suggested by Social Services. Who pays for the difference?
  15. What does the Government’s postponement of the ‘Care Cap’ mean for me as a self-funder?

Paying for care is something that many people will face at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the rules around who is eligible for care funding, and how to apply for care funding, can be very complicated. Here are some commonly asked questions that are often put to our specialist Community Care team.

I thought the NHS paid for all care from cradle to grave – so why am I being asked to pay care fees?

Many people are shocked when they find out that the NHS does not automatically cover their care home fees – or care at home fees – even when they have a serious medical condition such as Dementia or Parkinson’s or after they have had a stroke. The NHS only has a legal duty to fully fund care costs if the individual has a primary healthcare need. It can be hard to persuade the NHS that you or your relative have a primary healthcare need and should qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare.

I have been told that I will get NHS Funded Nursing Care. What is that?

This is when the NHS makes a small weekly contribution to your care fees in a Nursing Home or a Care Home registered for nursing. The payment is currently £112 per week. In many cases individuals may not feel the benefit of this Funded Nursing Care payment as the Home may put up their weekly charge to take in to account the individual’s nursing needs, and Social Services usually “knock it off” the amount that they will pay.

I am eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare and want to stay in my own home; can I?

People with a “primary health need” who want to remain in their home can have their care costs in their own home covered by NHS Continuing Healthcare but the amount of money offered may not cover the true cost of the care at home package. The NHS sometimes say that there are too many risks involved in a care at home package and try to persuade you to agree to a Nursing or Care Home. The introduction of NHS Personal Health Budgets should help.

Social Services say I am a “self-funder”. What does this mean?

The paying for care rules are complex, but put simply, you are expected to use your income and savings to fund your care if your savings and capital are more than £23,250. Many people were looking forward to the proposed “Care Cap” of £72,000 being introduced in April 2016, as this would  limit the self-funded amount spent on care home fees. As of July 2015, this has been set back to April 2020. However, when the changes come into effect, you will still have to use some of your income & capital.

If my savings are less than £23,250, do Social Services pay for my care fees in full?

It isn’t that straightforward. Regardless of the amount of capital and savings, Social Services always expect you to use your Pension, Benefit and other income to pay towards your care fees at home or in a Care or Nursing Home – and this will be the case even after the law changes in April 2020. Many people also don’t realise that the value of their home may be counted as capital to be used to cover the cost of their care in a Nursing or Care Home. Put simply, Social Services do not fully fund your care – at the very least, you will have an income contribution (assessed charge) to make. If you need to ensure that Social Services have properly assessed your capital and savings, our specialist community care team can help. Contact us to find out more.

Social Services told me I have to pay my wife’s care home fees. Is this right?

No. The income of the person in care is always taken into account. This includes state pensions and benefits, occupational and private pensions, and income from other sources. However, the partner’s income should be ignored in the Social Services financial assessment. There are also rules about income disregards that can be helpful to a couple when the person in care has a private or occupational pension. If you need to ensure that Social Services have properly assessed your wife’s income contribution to her care home fees, we can help.

Social Services told me to cash in my Life Assurance Policy to pay for my care, but my Financial Adviser said it was protected. Who is right?

The surrender value of a life insurance policy, endowment policies and some Investment Bonds should be normally be disregarded, although this may depend upon when and why you bought the policy. Social Services may dispute whether a policy is a life policy or not  – ensure you get specialist legal advice on this point as there is case law to assist. Do not cash the investments until you get advice – as soon as they are cashed, they are no longer disregarded.

Social Services told me I have to sell the family home to pay for my care. Is this right?

This is what causes many people most concern, as they fear that the home will have to be sold to pay for the costs of their care and there will be nothing to leave to their adult children. There are a number of factors relevant to the treatment of the family home and whether its value can be disregarded and/or whether you can borrow against the home so that you don’t have to sell it.

I’m going into care and my home is occupied by another relative. Do I have to sell?

The rules are complicated and it depends which relative is occupying the property, how old they are, whether they have a disability, whether they are dependent on you, whether they have been caring for you and possibly also how long they have been living there. You should seek advice on this, as if a property disregard can be claimed, it is very valuable.

I don’t want to have to sell my home to pay for care fees: what else can I do?

Deferred Payment Agreements offer one way out of this dilemma. You may be able to enter in to a loan funding agreement with Social Services that allows you to “borrow” against the value of the family home instead of selling it. Social Services contribute towards your care home fees, and you contribute from your income. Social Services apply a Legal Charge against the property which needs to be paid back when the person in care dies, or when the property is sold – whichever is the sooner. Up to 31 March 2015 this scheme has been interest-free during the lifetime of the person in care. However, the new Care Act rules in force from 1 April 2015 include charging interest and other charges on deferred payment agreements arranged after that date.

I have been told I am going into interim care for 6 weeks. Do I have to pay?

Whether you have to pay anything depends upon the nature and purpose of theshort term care package that is being arranged. You need Health & Social Services to confirm whether this is “temporary care” or “Intermediate Care” as the funding rules differ. No charge should be made for a package of Intermediate Care, but you may not qualify for this particular source of help because there are other strict criteria. If in doubt, seek advice. The value of your home should be disregarded in any short term residential care package.

I have been in hospital and intend to go home but have been told I need to go into a convalescent home to get better first. It could be for up to 6 months. Do I need to sell my home?

The value of the home MUST be ignored if the stay in care is “temporary” and the resident intends to return to it or to sell it to find a more appropriate property to return to. Temporary stays can be up to 52 weeks and in some circumstances could be longer. You may need legal advice if Social Services seek to regard the care placement as permanent when you still have a realistic opportunity of leaving care and returning home.

I am going into permanent care and have been assessed as a “self-funder”. When do I start having to pay?

This will depend upon how much capital you have and how your capital is split between your property and savings, investments, etc; and whether you can claim any disregards. Remember that the value of the home MUST be ignored for the first 12 weeks of admission to permanent care. However, if your assessable capital not including your home is above £23,250, you will normally be expected to self-fund from the start of your care home admission.

My care fees will be part-funded by Social Services. However my family have found me a home that is more expensive than the ones suggested by Social Services. Who pays for the difference?

“Top Up Fees” – otherwise known as “Third Party Payments” – are payable if you get financial help from Social Services to pay towards the weekly costs of the care home that charges fees which are above the local authority limit (the “usual rate”).  If you need Social Services funding assistance, but want to go to a more expensive care facility, a relative or other person will normally have to pay the weekly shortfall.

However, you should always explore your options fully. You may be able to show that you have a need rather than a preference to live in a particular care facility or type of facility that is more expensive than the local authority’s “usual rate”. Social Services also have to be able to show that they can actually provide a care placement within their weekly rate.

What does the Government’s postponement of the ‘Care Cap’ mean for me as a self-funder?

The media has widely covered the Government’s decision to postpone changes to the Paying for Care rules. The introduction of a ‘Care Cap’ of £72,000 on care home fees paid from your capital (property & savings) has been postponed from April 2016 to April 2020. This means that the current rules remain in force.

We will have to wait and see if indeed the cap is introduced in 2020 and at what level it is set but you can be sure it will not be applied retrospectively.

If you have already paid more than the cap by the time it is introduced, the Government will not refund the additional fees paid.

To speak to an expert community care lawyer about paying for care home fees, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

Additional Content