When will your local authority contribute to care home costs? The Compass CHC team explain in detail how the process works and who is responsible for meeting care home costs.
If your relative is deemed ineligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, then responsibility for their care home costs may fall to the local authority. Unlike NHS Continuing Healthcare, the Local Authority can means-test your relative to determine if they should contribute to care home costs.
What is the process for Local Authority assessment for care home costs?
Firstly, the Local Authority will determine whether your relative falls above or below the savings threshold, based on the amount they possess in savings and assets, including property owned at any stage since their health has deteriorated. This calculation will not include a home they are still living in unless they are leaving the home to enter a care setting.
The home will also be excluded from the calculation as to whether they have to pay care home costs if when they leave to enter a care home their spouse remains living in the property.
The savings threshold for 2015/2016 is £23,250 for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and £23,750 for Wales. If your relative is above this threshold, and they are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, then they will have to pay for their own care.
A full explanation of the eligibility criteria for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding can be found on our website, and if you have any queries or concerns you should not hesitate to contact an expert member of the Compass CHC team for a free, no obligation confidential discussion on 0121 227 8940.
Below this threshold the local authority will make a contribution to the costs of care until your relative’s savings fall below the final threshold of £14,000.
If your relative is above the threshold because of the value of their assets, but they have a low income, there is a possibility of the local authority paying your relative’s care home costs while you put their home on the market (i.e. a deferred payment). If they suspect that you have deliberately got rid of a relative’s capital, such as transferring ownership of a property, giving money away or spending it on a non-essential item, they will be treated as if they still own that capital. Extenuating circumstances might exist in this case, if you can prove that such payments were made at a time when you or your relative were not aware of any potential care needs.
What happens if I fall below the savings threshold for care home costs?
If your relative falls below this threshold, then the local authority will means-test you, to establish how much they may contribute towards your care costs. This means test will determine that the local authority will do one of the following:
- Decide that you will fund the cost of care yourself
- Agree to contribute towards part of the cost, and you will have to pay the rest
- As soon as your relative’s savings fall below the actual threshold of £14,000, then the local authority should make the minimum contribution needed to fully cover your relative’s basic care needs.
If the local authority is contributing you will then be given a personal budget. With this budget they can either provide your care directly through their own staff or outsourced organisation, or you can request they set up direct payments which will enable you to organise and fund your relative’s care services yourself.
What can the local authority contribute to care home costs?
If you are assessed as needing certain care items, the local authority must provide these for free. These include
- Community equipment: items intended to make daily life easier, i.e. communication aids.
- Re-ablement: services designed to help you adapt to a recent change in your health or ability, re-enabling you to become independent in your home.
- Minor home adaptations: i.e. raised toilet seats and bath seats, grab rails for the bath.
If you need to go into a care or nursing home, the local authority must provide a personal expenses allowance (PEA). They have the discretion to also allow a larger PEA under certain circumstances. If you are receiving care at home, they must ensure that other charges, such as rent and food, are also met after care costs. This is the minimum income guarantee (MIG).
How can the Compass Continuing Health Care team assist?
Of course all of this is irrelevant if you are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. Continuing Health care bears no relationship to your Local Authority and it is never means-tested. If you are eligible your care costs will be met in full, regardless of how much capital you have. If the individuals needs are primarily health needs they will be eligible for continuing health care to meet the full cost of their care, wherever they are located.
To find out more, contact the Compass Continuing Health care team for a free, no obligation, confidential discussion on 0121 227 8940. Alternatively if you complete our free assessment a member of our team will contact you.
Author: Tim Davies LLB