In an ideal world we would all like to stay in our own homes as we get older but sometimes illness or infirmity mean a care home is the safest option.
A major worry is about how this will be paid for.
The first step is to get a care needs assessment from the local authority. If you are assessed as needing care then the local authority will pay £177 per week for personal care and an additional £80 if you need nursing care. This will go to the care home as part of your fees whatever your income but you will no longer be paid Attendance Allowance if you were receiving it.
Most people will be expected to pay accommodation costs for the care home themselves. These are around £1,000 per week. People with a low income and capital below a certain amount will have fees paid by the local authority. Capital includes savings, investments and property. Capital below £17,500 is ignored. Above £28,000 means you are responsible for all costs although you still get the personal and nursing care if you have been assessed as needing it. Only half of jointly owned assets or accounts is counted as capital.
Most people’s main asset is their house and the main worry is being forced to sell it. The house will be disregarded if it is occupied by the spouse and possibly by older or incapacitated relatives or someone who has moved in to be a carer. A common reaction is to plan to give the house away, particularly to the person who would have inherited it. It is not allowed to dispose of assets in order to claim benefits. The local authority will treat you as if you still have the value of the house. There is no time limit if they suspect you have deliberately disposed of assets. It is also worth remembering that if you have given the house away you have lost control of it. Your family may decide to sell it.
If you are paying for your own care you have the choice of where you would like to live. Care is very expensive and your capital may start to drop below the £28,000 limit above which you are expected to fund yourself. Contact the local authority for help but be aware they may want you to move to a less expensive home. You can challenge this.
I have skimmed the surface of a very complicated issue. You can get more detailed advice from the C.A.B.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is at 7 Atholl Crescent. Drop in is 10am-12 noon, Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment in the afternoon. If the line is busy you can leave a message and you will get a call-back. The number will come up as Withheld to protect your privacy.
The Advice Line is 01738 450580. This line is often busy but if you leave a message your call will be returned.
Everything is confidential, even the fact that you visited the bureau. There is also a web-site run by the CAB. Citizensadvice.org.uk covers many topics and is easy to use.