Care homes are certainly expensive – so we don’t blame you if you’re feeling apprehensive at the prospect of care home fees.
The process of deciding how to pay your residential care home or nursing home fees can be complicated and although you can get help with funding and certain benefits, sometimes the money simply runs out, leading to stress, worry and fear.
But don’t worry! Lottie are here to help.
Read on to find out what happens to your care home fees if you run out of money.
Who pays care home fees?
Full-time care costs are a costly commitment. There are several different ways to pay for your care home fees.
The first is via self-funding. If you have more than £23,250 in savings and you live in England and Northern Ireland, you will be required to cover your care home costs in full as a self-funder. If you live in Scotland, the limit is £28,500.
If you own your own home, the value of your home won’t count towards this amount if you receive care at home, or if you live in a care home but your partner, relative or dependent still lives in your home.
The second option is getting funding help from your local council or authorities. As a rough guide, if you have between £14,250 and £23,250 in savings, you could qualify for partial financial support. Finally, you can also receive funding from the NHS.
What happens if you run out of money?
Even if you had a significant amount of money saved when you went into care, care home costs, changes in your care needs and additional fees often take their toll and the money might run out, dropping below the required savings threshold.
This can be a very distressing and anxious time for residents and their families.
In the event that your savings have fallen below £23,250 – or £14,250 if you were receiving partial funding – you will need to do another financial assessment.
Local Authority Funding
Under the Care Act 2014, your local authority has a duty of care for those who have been officially assessed as having care needs – including funding care.
Local authorities should therefore agree to help fund your care. However, the funding offered by your local authority might not cover the fees you are currently paying in your care home, creating the problematic situation where there is a difference in the fee the council are prepared to pay and the fee the care home is asking for.
Ask your local council for a means test financial assessment to see if you are entitled to funding.
In the event that there is a difference in price in what you and your local council are able to afford and the cost of the care home, you could ask for financial help from family or friends to make up the cost.
These are called a top up fee, or a third party contribution. With top up fees, you can stay in a more expensive care home without having to move. Note that your loved ones are not legally obliged to help pay for your care home fees, unless they have signed a contract.
Care Needs Assessment
If you’re concerned about your finances, get in touch with your local authority to get a free care needs assessment. This will help you to work out whether you can qualify for funding support from your local council or the NHS.
It’s a good idea to do this a few months in advance to your savings going below the threshold we mentioned earlier, to give you enough time to prepare and organise your assessment.
Each country in the UK has its own care needs assessment criteria that your needs must meet. Keep reading to learn more about each…
In England, under the Care Act 2014, your care needs must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Your care needs arose due to a mental or physical illness or impairment, not other factors
- You cannot perform daily tasks to look after yourself without experiencing extreme pain, distress, anxiety, or without requiring assistance or prompting, you are putting yourself or others in your home or care home at risk, or you take significantly longer to perform daily tasks than you should
- Being unable to do daily tasks has a significant effect on your overall wellbeing
Scotland focuses more on the level of risk you are at if you don’t receive care, looking at:
- Your ability to perform personal care and domestic tasks
- Your ability to take part in work, education or community life
- Whether there is significant neglect of your mental or physical health
In Scotland, if your care needs assessment shows that you qualify and you are over the age of 65, personal and nursing care is free. However, you still need to pay for your care home accommodation..
Wales and Northern Ireland
In Wales, you may be eligible for funding if your care news arose due to mental or physical ill health, a disability, your age, or dependence on drugs or alcohol.
You will not be able to perform the daily tasks you need to do even with assistance and you will be unable to perform these tasks until you have help from your local authority. You will also have difficulty with any or all of the following:
- Personal care
- Attending work or education, or enjoying leisure activities
- Maintaining relationships
- Looking after a child or dependent in your care
- Protecting yourself from abuse or neglect
Northern Ireland looks at an individual’s level of risk in relation to the below:
- Your physical and mental health
- Your ability to look after yourself
- Your ability to protect yourself from abuse or neglect
- Your ability to go to work, attend education, or socialise
- Your ability to maintain relationships
- Your ability to control your immediate environment
We hope this helps to give you an idea of what care assessments look for. If your care needs assessment determines that you qualify for help, you will also need to do a financial needs assessment to look at your income, savings and assets.
A plan will then be made according to what support you can get – for example, NHS Continuing Healthcare.
NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding
If you have a disability, a serious illness, or you’ve been in an accident and you’re facing increasing care costs, you may be able to qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, which is where the NHS will pay for your care home fees.
NHS CHC covers full health and social care costs and even includes accommodation. You can get NHS CHC in a residential home, a nursing home, or in your own home.
Please be aware that there are fairly strict eligibility criteria you have to pass to access CHC.
NHS-funded Nursing Care
If you don’t qualify for NHS CHC, you might be able to apply for NHS-funded Nursing Care, which is a package that can help cover nursing care.
FNC support is decided by an official eligibility assessment from the NHS and to qualify for it, you must live in a care home registered to provide nursing care and you cannot be eligible for NHS CHC.
The funding is paid directly to your care home and deducted from your fees.
Is eviction a possibility?
If your finances are undergoing assessment and it is decided that you need funding help, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be evicted.
Have a talk with your care home manager to discuss your contract – some care providers will give you time to apply for funding or work out your next steps.
Alternatively, your care home may accept a lower care fee rate from your local council, or allow you to move to a smaller room or a shared room in the home.
If you are offered a place at a different care home, it’s worth finding out whether there’s a possibility that you can stay at your current one, even if a few adjustments have to be made.
Finances are important and it’s vital that you’re prepared for care home fees and all they entail. Read your care home contract carefully, looking for hidden fees or additional payments.
Check what the care home’s policy is in the event that someone’s money runs out. It’s also a good idea to get some financial advice, for example, through a money advice service, which will help you to work out whether the care home costs are feasible in the long-term.
Once you’ve moved into your care home, keep a close eye on your personal finances, or ask a friend or relative to help you.
We know that the possibility of your money running out is a very stressful situation, but don’t panic.
Clear and open conversations with care home staff, your local authority and friends and family can all work wonders when it comes to financial issues – so if you’re worrying about what the future might hold, be assured that there are always options to help keep you in the care home that can best meet your care needs.