We don’t often think about care until something happens to us or a loved one, at which point we’re thrown into a world that needs us to make life-changing decisions with little time or experience.
Add to that the emotional load as well as a huge amount of information and different people, and the experience can easily become overwhelming. Being aware of the considerations can help you to arrange the best quality of care in the right setting.
Understand the variables
Depending on where you live, UK residential care costs can vary significantly, but the average it’s around £34,000 a year – for a nursing home, you’ll be looking at £48,000 going up to nearly £50,000 for those with Dementia.1 And if you’re a ‘self-funder’ (meaning you pay for some or all of the costs yourself), you could be looking at funding on average an additional £12,500 per year or more.2 While the local authority must help you arrange care at home if you ask, that’s not the same as paying for it, although they must provide some services for free regardless of your funding status.
Know the care and housing options
With this kind of life-changing decision, it’s important to know your options. Our choices are often dependent on the type of care that’s needed, along with location and cost, so it’s worth finding out what help is available and which services are free of charge.
Key questions to ask include: What is the difference between a residential care home and a nursing care home? What is the difference between live-in care and domiciliary care? What are the relative merits between one type of care and another, and which one 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 when help is needed, but the good news is that the system is so complex it means almost every family will benefit from receiving help. Families are often faced with difficult conversations and decisions, which is where a financial adviser may be able to help, while specialists can help you figure out what level of care and support is appropriate.
The right advice is the best place to start in getting the right care – four out of ten older people have unclaimed Penson Credit3, along with Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance. The right assessments will be able to help you access additional money to help pay for your choice of care and reduce wealth depletion as much as possible.
Don’t make assumptions
Commonly, people will assume that a house will need to be sold, but it is worth noting that property is often disregarded from a means-tested financial assessment. The council may be able to offer you a ‘deferred payment agreement’ if you or a loved one is moving into a care home and you don’t want to or are unable to sell. Most people (understandably) prefer to stay at home where possible, and Adult Social Care and NHS services may be able to assist with living independently through care and support.
Help from the state
Regardless of whether you or a loved one will be ‘self-funding’ care, there are free services available from both the NHS and Adult Social Care. NHS services don’t require a means test, but Adult Social Care is usually means-tested, with an upper funding level of £23,250 (England 2021/22).4 There are, however, more welfare benefits that are not means-tested than those that are – many are left unclaimed usually due to lack of awareness rather than reluctance to claim. Doing the research makes sure you can avoid paying for care when you shouldn’t be, or for too long.
It’s important to register a power of attorney while you or a loved one is still able, because it will save time and money as well as giving 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 their own decisions unassisted. Making a Will can also provide peace of mind while saving time and money for the executor(s). This is where a financial adviser can help, along with estate planning.
Funding for care
Between the NHS, benefits allowances and Local Authority support, there are many types of public funding, which makes it hard to know where to start. A financial adviser will provide personalised, expert advice to help you make good care choices, and you may find there’s even more support available than you realise.
Speak to one of our advisers to learn more about planning care for yourself or a loved one and how Wellesley can help.
1 LaingBuisson, 2020
2 Just Group, 2019
3 Independent Age, 2019
4 Department of Health & Social Care, 2021
Powers of Attorney involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by Wellesley Wealth Advisory. Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.