This blog was written by a member of staff from PayingForCare, a not-for-profit company designed to help individuals make more informed decisions about the arrangements and funding for their long-term care.
“Recently I was invited by the marketing team of Somerset Care to give them a presentation about the issues that can surround people going into care and the funding of it.
This can be a daunting subject – from the many people I have spoken to, they often say it’s a bit like being dropped into the middle of a maze and having no directions! You can get little bits of information from so many sources, for example from your GP, family and friends as well as the Local Authority, but it can feel like you’re constantly running into dead ends and not getting the full picture.
Meeting the cost of residential or nursing care in old age is a growing issue for many people in the UK. As life expectancy continues to lengthen, more of us can expect to require some form of long-term care, either at home or in residential care.
Previous research has shown that 43% of people in residential care pay for their own care *.
Of those, the Local Government Information Unit estimates that around 20% will run out of money at some point in the future and fall back on the state. **This number is set to grow as the number of people aged over 100, who are the most likely to need some form of care, is predicted to increase a hundredfold to one million over the next 60 years.**
The costs can be daunting. While the state may help with some costs, eligibility is limited and many people find themselves over the threshold at which state support is given. Local authority help to pay for care fees is means tested so that, broadly, anyone with assets worth over £23,250* (£23,500 in Scotland and £22,500 in Wales),, including in many cases their home is expected to meet the cost of care in full.
In reality, care is usually only thought about at the point at which it is needed and, very often, it is the family of the person needing care who has to make all the necessary arrangements. Naturally, the key priority for them at this stage is to secure the best quality care available as soon as possible. Relatively few people consider the true cost of care over the longer term and how to pay for it. Quite often, it is once someone has been settled into their care home when there is a realisation of how quickly the costs of care can mount up over time.
Of course, getting the best quality of care for relatives will be the key focus, however, it is also imperative to ensure that it can be paid for, for as long as it is required, without potentially compromising on the quality of care in the future. In the absence of proper financial planning there is the risk that funds will run out and many people can find themselves falling back on the local authority for help. Yet, of the 53,000 people who currently pay for their residential care, a recent study found that only 7,000 are likely to have received appropriate financial advice on planning for care fees.***
The fact is, there is a lack of reliable and comprehensive information about care funding and advice. In particular, there is a chronic lack of awareness about the typical costs of care – which care costs individuals will be required to pay and how much the state will pick up, how long people might live and where to get the right advice.
At PayingForCare , we are a not for profit organisation established to address this information gap. We have a website at which people can find valuable information on all aspects of paying for care. It includes details of entitlements to state benefits, eligibility for local council support and appropriate options available to help fund care.
We also provide the facility to talk to specialist care fees advisers through an online chat service and obtain answers about any aspects of care relevant to your individual circumstances.
Most importantly, there is also the option to find a Specialist Care Fees Adviser in the local area to access in more detail the advice needed to be able to plan for long term care funding. To find out more visit www.payingforcare.org”
* Laing & Buisson, Care of Elderly People UK Market Survey 2012/2013
** LGiU Independent Ageing 2013
*** Partnership data