Paying for residential care
It’s worth bearing in mind all the options when thinking about where you decide to move to - if you go for an expensive option initially and become unable to continue paying the rates later on, then you may have to move to somewhere cheaper.
The rules about payment are complex, but it helps to understand isses around:
If you don't get any help with payments from your local authority, you might want information on:
There is a national system for assessing whether you can have help with fees. The assessment will consider things like:
- your weekly income
- your savings and investments
- whether you’re a home owner
- whether you live with a partner
If you have more capital than the upper limit set by the government, you will be expected to pay the full costs of your care home. If you have between the lower and upper limit, you will be expected to pay part of the costs.
The rules are complex and change regularly. Contact the information team for details of organisations that can help. Call 020 8438 0799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before making any financial arrangements, it can help to seek legal advice from a financial adviser.
If you're eligible for local authority help with payments:
Local authorities set a rate that they will pay for residential care. If the home you want to move to costs more than the local authority is prepared to pay, you may still be able to move there.
- The local authority must show that the amount it would usually pay is enough to cover the level of service you require.
- They can only refuse to pay more than their usual rate if they can prove that there is another home (within their rate) which meets all of your needs.
- Your needs can include considerations such as location, and religious and cultural requirements.
- If there is no other home that meets all your assessed needs, they must then agree to pay any extra cost to ensure you have the proper care you need.
If the local authority can prove that there is another home that would meet your needs, and you have someone else who is willing to pay the difference, you could still move to the home of your choice. This is known as a ‘third party top-up’.
If you are very severely affected by MS and have many complex symptoms, the NHS may pay for your care. This is known as ‘continuing NHS care’ .
This is rare and only occurs where a person’s main care needs are of a medical nature and are complex, intense or unpredictable. The need for care from a registered nurse alone is not sufficient reason for receiving such help.
Continuing care criteria varies around the country.
If you do receive free continuing NHS health care, the choice about where the care is provided is up to the NHS, though they do have to take your views into account.
It can be helpful to review what benefits you and your family members or carers are receiving. For instance, if the local authority will not be contributing to the care home fees, you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance.
Even if you think you are getting what you are entitled to, it may well be worth completing an annual check.
There are also many trusts and charities in the UK, some of which will consider contributions towards care home fees. Whilst some are UK-wide, others cover very specific local areas, or may concentrate on a group of people. The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need (available from local libraries or the Directory of Social Change) has brief details of over 2,000 sources of charitable support.
The biggest worry for many people needing to pay care home fees is not the weekly cost, but the uncertainty of not knowing how long the costs will need to be met.
There are a number of financial products that can help you cope with fees on an ongoing basis:
- Immediate care annuity - You pay a single lump sum and in return a fixed sum of money is paid towards your care costs for the rest of your life
- Equity release - refers to ways in which you can raise money against the value of your home. The Financial Service Authority has guidance.
- Long-term care insurance - unfortunately, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for people with MS to obtain long-term care cover of any type, because MS does not have a cure and can be progressive. [link to Insurance pages]
- Investment plans - you put some money into a fund with the aim of making a profit. This money can then be used to pay for your care when it is needed. It is strongly recommended that you seek expert advice about which products are best suited to you.
If you are:
- aged 65 and over
- have personal care needs which need to be met in a care home
- are funding your own care
then your local council can pay £149 per week for your personal care needs. If you need nursing and personal care, the local council will pay £216 per week for your care (the nursing care contribution is £67 per week to people of any age).
You will be expected to cover the rest of the costs of the care home, which will be the accommodation fees. In order to work out whether you can afford to pay these, you will need to have a financial assessment carried out by your local council social work department.
If you have been assessed as being eligible for the highest band of help for nursing care costs, you may wish to check if you are entitled to further help under NHS continuing care.