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FAQs: Paying For Care Fees

Many people will deal with Paying for care at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the rules regarding eligibility for care funding and applying for care funding can be complicated. Here are some questions that are often asked of our specialist Community Care team.

1. My savings are less than £23,250, will Social Services pay my care fees in full?

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

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

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

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

7. Can I avoid Care Home fees in the future by gifting my house to my adult children?

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

9. I have been in hospital and want to go home but I need to recuperate in a convalescent home for up to 6 months. Do I need to sell my home?

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

11. 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?

12. I thought the NHS paid for all of my care, so why am I being asked to pay care fees?

13. I am eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare – can I stay in my own home?

14. What is NHS Funded Nursing Care?

My savings are less than £23,250, will Social Services pay my care fees in full?

No, the rules surrounding social care funding are not that simple. If you are assessed by Social Services as having social care needs (not a primary healthcare need) you will be expected to pay towards your care home fees or your care at home. Some of the rules differ depending on where you are receiving care. Social Services will not fully fund your care. For help challenging an inaccurate social care financial assessment by Social Services, 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. It is the income and assets of the person in care that are assessed during a financial assessment. Income includes their state pension and benefits, occupational and private pensions, and other income. The partner’s income should be ignored by the financial assessment. Rules regarding income disregards can also be helpful to a couple when the person in care has a private or occupational pension. The situation can be complicated when household income is received on a joint basis, such as Pension Credit. We can help ensure that Social Services have properly assessed your wife’s income contribution to her care home fees.

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

The paying for care rules are complex, but put simply, if your assessable savings and capital are more than £23,250 you are expected to fund your care costs in full until those assets fall below that level.

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, whether capital is property, savings, or investments, etc., and whether your property can be disregarded. If you own a property, the value of your home may be disregarded for up to 12 weeks, depending on the circumstances.  If your assessable capital apart from your home exceeds £23,250, you will normally have to self-fund as soon as you move into the care home.

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

Many people are concerned their home will have to be sold to pay care home fees and there will be nothing left for their family to inherit. There are complex rules regarding assessment of the home, whether its value can be fully disregarded and/or whether you can borrow against the home so that you do not have to sell it.

Deferred Payment Agreements (DPA) offer an alternative. A DPA is a loan funding agreement with Social Services which allows you to “borrow” against the value of the family home instead of selling it. Social Services contribute towards your care home fees and 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.

We can help you navigate these rules and plan for your and your family’s future.

Can I avoid Care Home fees in the future by gifting my house to my adult children?

Many people consider gifting their savings or their home to a family member to avoid the risk of having to sell their home at a later date to pay for care fees. However, the paying for care rules make it clear that giving away assets, such as capital or signing over your house to someone else, may be considered an intentional “deprivation” of assets. The Local Authority may treat you as if you still owned the asset even after you have given it away and you may be liable for all of your care fees as well as no longer owning the asset. This is a complex matter and you should always seek legal advice before contemplating any gifting.

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

It depends who lives in 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. Please contact our community care law team for advice, as families and Social Services can both get the law wrong.

I have been in hospital and want to go home but need to recuperate in a convalescent home 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 and buy a more appropriate property. Temporary stays can be up to 52 weeks or longer. You may need legal advice if Social Services regard the care placement as permanent when you still have a realistic opportunity of leaving the care home and returning home.

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

It depends upon the nature and purpose of the short-term care package being arranged. Health & Social Services should 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 criteria. If in doubt, seek advice. The value of your home should be disregarded in any short term or temporary residential care package.

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 (ignored) by Social Services. This may depend upon when and why you bought the policy. Social Services may dispute whether a policy is a life policy so get specialist legal advice before you cash in the investments.

I thought the NHS paid for all of my care, so why am I being asked to pay care fees?

People are shocked to find out that the NHS does not automatically cover care home fees, or care at home fees, even when they have a serious medical condition such as dementia or Parkinson’s, or after 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 difficult to persuade the NHS that you or your relative has a primary healthcare need and should qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare. Our community care law team can provide advice on potential eligibility for this source of funding.

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

Care at home costs can be paid by NHS Continuing Healthcare but the funding rates offered may not cover the true cost of the care at home package. The NHS may say it is too risky to have care at home and try to persuade you to agree to a Nursing or Care Home. An NHS Personal Health Budget could help. If your local Clinical Commissioning Group has a resource allocation policy that limits the amount that they will pay for your care at home to about the amount they would pay for you in a care home, contact our specialist Community Care lawyers for advice.

What is NHS Funded Nursing Care?

This is a small payment from the NHS towards the cost of care in a Nursing Home or a Care Home registered for nursing. Funded Nursing Care (FNC) is currently £165.56 per week (2019/20). However, not all care homes pass on the benefit of this payment and will depend on the contractual terms agreed with the care home. See our summary page for an explanation of care home contract terms.

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.

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