The quick read:
- The volume of information and decisions to make around choosing the right care can be overwhelming.
- The average cost of care in the UK is £34,0001, depending on where you live.
- A financial adviser can help you to make good care choices – there may even be more support available than you realise.
Not many of us think about care until something happens to us or a loved one, and we’re thrown into a world we have little experience of or time to make life-changing decisions. This emotional overload and the vast amount of information and people involved can be overwhelming, but being aware of the considerations can help you to arrange the best quality of care in the right setting.
Understand the variables
UK residential care costs vary significantly depending on where you live, but on average is around £34,000 a year, while for a nursing home it’s £48,000 and nearly £50,000 for those with Dementia1. If you are a ‘self-funder’, which means you have to pay some or all of the care costs yourself, you could be looking at funding an additional £12,500 per year or more on average2. The local authority must help you arrange care at home if you ask, however, this is not the same as paying for it! They must also provide some services free – regardless of your funding status.
Know the care and housing options
Before making a life-changing decision, make sure you’re aware of your options. Often our choices depend on the type of care needed, location and cost, so it’s worth finding out what help there is and which services are free of charge.
Do you know the difference between a residential care home and a nursing care home? Do you know the difference between live-in care and domiciliary care? Do you understand the relative merits between one type of care and another and how to choose what will suit you or your loved ones best? Will the local authority pay? What will happen if your money runs out?
Choosing the right care
It isn’t always easy to admit is help needed. The system is so complex almost every family will benefit from receiving help. Families are often faced with difficult conversations and decisions – a financial adviser may be able to help with these, while specialists can help you to consider what is appropriate care and support.
The right care starts with the right advice. Four out of ten older people have unclaimed Pension Credit3, and many others Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance. Getting the right assessments can lead to additional money to help pay for your choice of care and reduce wealth depletion.
Don’t make assumptions
The most common assumption is that a house will have to be sold, however, property is often disregarded from a means-tested financial assessment. The council may be able to make a ‘deferred payment agreement’ if you or a loved one is moving into a care home and don’t want to or can’t sell. With most people preferring to stay at home where possible, adult social care and NHS services may be able to assist with living independently through care and support.
Help from the state
Both the NHS and Adult Social Care have services that are free of charge, regardless of whether you or a loved one will be ‘self-funding’ care.
NHS Funding is free from a means test, but adult social care is usually means tested, with an upper funding level of £23,250 (England 2021/22)4. However, there are more welfare benefits that are not means-tested than those that are. Many are left unclaimed, often due to a lack of awareness rather than a reluctance to claim. Make sure you have the facts and avoid paying for care when you shouldn’t be, or for too long.
Registering a power of attorney while you or a loved one is still able to choose a trusted person will save time and money; and can give peace of mind that the person’s wishes are known and will be followed – should there be a time when they are not able to make your own decisions unassisted. Making a Will can also provide peace of mind and save time and money for the executor(s). A financial adviser can help with these issues, and with others, such as estate planning.
Funding for care
There are many types of public funding, through NHS, benefits allowances and Local Authority support, meaning it can be hard to know where to start. By providing personalised, expert advice, a financial adviser can help you to make good care choices – there may even be more support available than you realise.
Speak to your St. James’s Place Partner to learn more about planning care for yourself or a loved one and how we can help.
Powers of Attorney involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by St. James’s Place. Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
2Just Group, 2019
3Independent Age, 2019
4Department of Health & Social Care, 2021