Easing the trauma of home care finance


Last week the government started a consultation, flowing from the Care Act 2014, on the draft regulations and guidance to implement the “care cap” and policy proposals for a new appeals system for care and support. You can read the consultation document here.

That may sound as dry as toast, but, trust me, these things are really important. I happen to believe that the Care Act 2014 is one of the most significant pieces of legislation we’ve seen for many years. It goes a very significant way towards easing the human trauma of self-funding care home provision.

The devil is in the detail, and this consultation is the detail.

One of the most awful things that people going into care, or their relatives, have had to face is the prospect of spending all their life’s savings and selling their property to fund care. With care home bills of £1000 a week in the South-East, and similarly astronomical fees throughout the country, this subject is scary. You could send two or three kids to Eton for what it takes to keep someone in a care home these days. And if you or the resident have even modest savings or a house, then self-funding is inevitable.

The Care Act 2014, however, introduces a cap of £72,000 from April 1st 2016. It is seductive to imagine that once you spend £72,000 in care home fees, the council steps in and picks up the tab.

Wrong.

Only care fees, as opposed to living expenses, are included in the bandwidth of the cap. So you have to deduct a standard £12,000 a year from what you pay a care home, before your expenditure starts counting towards the cap.

And it is not what you pay to the care home that is counted. It is what your local council assesses as the average cost of care for comparable care home residents in your area.

So you could end up paying twice as much as £72,000 before the council steps in, and then they will not pay living expenses and will not pay the whole cost if you are in an above average care home. (All that is if you are above the asset/savings thresholds below which the council provides necessary residential care anyway).

The whole thing is a minefield. So, please, take an interest in the consultation. If you are not involved in this subject at the moment, as a care home resident or as the relative of one, the chances are that you will be in such a situation sooner or later. And it is probably best to prepare yourself for the ordeal now.

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