When an older person starts to struggle with normal tasks of daily living, the preferred option is usually to arrange suitable care at home. Such care is referred to as Domiciliary Care and is designed to enables the individual to continue to live in his or her own home for as long as possible. Indeed the basic premise of both central government and local authority’s thinking is to try and facilitate staying at home wherever possible. providing it’s safe to do so.
Domiciliary care services can include any combination of :-
1. Personal care, examples of which include: Washing and dressing, help with toileting, meal preparation, aiding with mobility
2. Domestic help in and around the home, which includes cleaning, laundry and help with shopping.
3. Medical help in the home including changing dressings and administering medication.
The amount of domiciliary care delivered by the Local Authority will vary depending on your needs and will be determined by a Social Services care assessment.
It will regularly take the form of regular pop in visits, but increasingly due to budgetary constraints these may only last for 15 or 30 minutes and frequency will depend upon the level of need assessed, but once again is unlikely to total much more than 3 hours a day.
Increasingly such domiciliary care is now outsourced to appointed care agencies, or you are offered a weekly cash equivalent - called a personal budget or direct payment - for you to source your own care.
Any such care or personal budget is not however, offered to everyone. First they will carry out a needs assessment to determine what level and how much care you need and each local authority has set their own minimum standard before they will help, with most authorities now only helping people who have substantial needs, but this does vary so you should check with your own local authority’s social services department.
Should you be deemed as needing help, they will then carry out a means test to see if you should be paying for your own care or at least be contributing towards it.
Whilst there is no national rules for when local authorities charge for domiciliary care services (unlike means testing for care in a care home), most English local; authorities are now following the same guidelines as laid down for paying for residential care as detailed by the Care Act.
Step 1: First they will look at your savings/capital/assets (but not the value of your home as you are still going to live in it) and if your assessable capital exceeds just £23,250 (England 2022/3) whilst they would help arrange any care required, you would be expected to pay for it yourself - at least until your savings fell below the limit. However, some services like the district nurse would still be provided free of charge as these are part of the NHS.
Step 2: Even if your capital is less than £23,250 (England 2022/3), they look at your income (including any state benefits you may be entitled to but not yet claiming and also “notional” or theoretical income they derive you could get from any savings greater than £14,250 (England 2022/23)) at a rate of £1 per week extra income for every £250 of capital greater than £14,250), to see if your total income is greater than the amount the Government deems anyone needs to live on – a so called “Minimum Income Guarantee” or “Protected Income”. Notionally this protected income is set each year in line with the basic amount of Pension Credit plus 25%, but can be increased to allow for disability and extra health related expenditure that’s deemed necessary.
So as the current weekly rate for Guaranteed Pension credit in 2022-23 for a single person is £182.60, this currently gives a protected weekly amount of income of £228.25 (2022-23) (without any allowances being made for extra necessary expenditure or disability).
Step 3: If you income exceeds this protected amount, they expect you to pay a % of this difference towards the cost of the care provided (or it reduces the amount of any direct payment or personal budget awarded).
Please note: This is only a description of how local authorities assess your means in England. Different rules may apply in Scotland or Wales
How much you receive from your Local Authority for care at home can make all the difference to the amount and quality of care you receives. As we have seen these awards are means tested and can be quite confusing and are even sometimes incorrectly assessed meaning you can’t afford the care you need.
If you feel you are not getting enough money or simply want a second opinion on how it has been calculated, why not ask us to refer you to our specialist third party to do this for you. This will be a telephone based consultation and they will directly ask you for details of your financial situation and copies of any financial assessment you have received. To cover the time involved they will make a flat rate charge of £195 but hope to save you far more than this.
To arrange a check please call us on 0800 180 4336.
Even if you do qualify for some financial assistance from your council, the quantity and consistency of the care you receive can often leave a lot to be desired and may even be insufficient.
Should you want more hours, or more consistency of domiciliary care and your capital exceeds £23,250 in England or £24,000 in Wales (2022/3), you will probably have to pay for it yourself. So how can you afford better quality of care - Well much will depend on just how much savings you already have?
Should you be fortunate enough to have sufficient savings, one option which many people look at is to purchase an immediate needs care fees funding plan or annuity.
If, however, you no longer have sufficient money to continue paying for care or to buy a care fees annuity, providing you are a homeowner, you may be able to consider releasing some equity from your home to provide the necessary funds.
To read more about equity release visit equity release
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