At The Good Care Group, we know through our experience in helping many families to plan long term care for over 10 years, that the cost of care is a significant consideration. Whilst many families will be faced with having to finance their own care (known as self-funding care), some will be entitled to care funding. There are two types of care funding; social care funding provided by Local Authorities and healthcare funding provided by the NHS. Here we explore what social care funding is, factors that affect your eligibility for funding and how you can access funding.
What is social care funding?
Depending on your financial circumstances and your needs you may be entitled to social care funding from your local authority to meet the cost of care or part of the cost. Social care is care provided to an individual that supports the tasks and activities of daily life, for example washing and dressing, feeding and toileting (referred to as personal care). It can also include supporting people to maintain independence in daily life, social interaction and protection from vulnerable situations. Social care funding can be used to receive care in a residential care home or for those wishing to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home with either live-in care or domiciliary care.
Means testing for social care funding
The provision of adult social care funding is means tested. Means testing is the method by which your financial eligibility to receive funding for your care is assessed. It takes into consideration any regular income you may receive and any capital assets you own, which includes savings, investment and property.
Eligibility for social care funding will be impacted by your capital (savings and property), as described below:
|Your capital||What you will need to pay|
|Over £23,250||You must pay the full cost of your care.|
|You must pay the full cost of your care. Between £14,250-£23,250||The local authority will fund part of your care, and you will be expected to pay the rest of the fees.|
|Less than £14,250||This will not be included in the means test and the local authority will provide full social care funding.|
Your home will not be counted as an asset if it remains occupied by your partner or spouse, a close relative who is either over the age of sixty or incapacitated, a relative younger than sixteen whom you are legally obliged to support or an ex-partner if they are deemed a single parent.
There are several factors that affect the outcome of means testing for care funding in the UK:
- A person’s age
- Location within the UK
- Type of care provision sought – for example moving to a care home or receiving live-in care at home
- The discretion of the awarding local authority
How can I access social care funding?
There are a series of steps involved in securing social care funding.
You initially need to discuss your care needs with your local GP or health consultant. If the GP feels that you could be eligible for funding to meet your care needs, they will recommend you contact the Adult Services department of your local authority.
Adult Services will then arrange for an assessment of your care needs and will request a GP report to feed into this process.
They will produce a detailed report based upon your care and health needs.
A financial assessment (means test) will be undertaken to determine your ability to pay the cost of the care you need. Savings, income and assets are all considered in the process.
Depending upon your means test and how it aligns with national social funding thresholds, you will be deemed eligible either for full or part social care funding, or ineligible for any financial assistance from the local authority.
Social care funding options
Personal budgets and direct payments
If you are eligible for adult social care funding you can either ask the local authority to manage your budget and find suitable care you need, or you can opt to receive a personal budget with direct payment of funds to yourself for you to make your own care arrangements.
A personal budget is the overall cost of the care and support your local authority has means tested will be available to you. Direct payments are a funding choice in personal budgets, whereby you receive the payment to manage and organise your own care arrangements, whether that is in your own home or from moving into residential care. Direct payments can be used to pay for care services, equipment or activities that meet your social care needs either from an individual or an organisation.
If you manage your own personal budget you will be free to choose the provider you wish to receive care from, where as if the local authority manage it you will be restricted to using a provider from their preferred supplier list.
Funding respite care
If you are a family carer looking after an elderly loved one and need respite care to afford you a break, you could be eligible for social care funding from your local authority. The local authority will conduct a community care assessment of your loved one to determine if they are eligible for full or part funding for respite care. The process and criteria by which funding respite care is awarded will differ between local authorities, depending upon available finance and policy priorities.
Charity funding for respite care
If you are unable to secure social care funding for respite from your local authority you may be able to receive help and support from a local or national charity which provide much-needed funds to enable respite breaks for carers. These include The Respite Association, The Ogilvie Charities, The Victoria Convalescent Trust and The League of the Helping Hand (LHH).
Before you consider social care funding you should explore whether you are entitled to health care funding. Healthcare in the UK is free at the point of delivery. Therefore, if you have an identified healthcare need and are receiving care for this in your own home, you may be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, which is arranged and funded by your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). A healthcare need relates to the treatment, control or prevention of a disease, illness, injury or disability and the after care of a person living with these conditions.
If you feel you are entitled to this funding, you need to visit your GP who will complete an initial assessment and refer your case to the CCG for consideration.
They will then ask you to complete full assessment with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals so they can understand the complexity of your needs.
Sadly, for many, specialist conditions like dementia are not in isolation considered a healthcare need so care for dementia is not necessarily funded by NHS Continuing Healthcare. It is always worth checking though, as funding can considerably contribute to the overall cost of care and in many cases will fund the total cost. Find out what healthcare funding could be available to you here.
Local authority support
In addition to social care funding, you may be entitled to other local authority support that contributes to social care funding options available, including discounts on your council tax, attendance allowance and savings credit – all of which can reduce the cost of receiving care in your own home. Find out what local authority support is available to you here.