Paying for Care
Before you start planning how you will pay for care, check whether you are eligible for Continuing Healthcare from the NHS. You should receive an assessment under the eligibility criteria contained in the National Framework, either before discharge from hospital or when your care needs are indentified in the community. If you have a primary healthcare need, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, or who is delivering the care or where. The NHS is responsible for meeting your healthcare needs.
So means testing and self funding of your care should only be discussed once you have been screened and assessed against the eligibility criteria and been assessed as not qualifying for continuing care. Even then, you have the right to appeal against the assessment, through the local Primary Care Trust and on through the Health Authority and right up to the Ombudsman. People successfully challenge assessments all the time and get refunds of money they have paid out for their care. Even after someone has died, their executors can still make retrospective claims. You should be reassessed at least annually or more frequently if your needs change rapidly. There is a fast track process for people with a terminal illness.
Gillian can advise on claims for CHC and can take cases all the way up to the Ombudsman if required, or she can provide a consultancy service if you or your family are happy to do much of the ‘leg work’ yourselves.
Make sure you are getting all the non-means tested benefits you are entitled to, including attendance allowance and the registered nursing care contribution. Check the care home or care agency contract. Gillian can advise on all this. It’s also a good idea to ask for a needs assessment from Social Services, to check that the home you’re entering accurately meets your needs. Otherwise there could be arguments about whether a cheaper home could meet your needs, if the time comes when your savings fall below the means test threshold.
You can ask the Local Authority to arrange a deferred payment scheme for you. They don’t have to give you this, but if they agree, you will be able to access your Care Home place at the rates the LA pay and have the cost rolled up as a loan, repayable after you die. There’s no interest on it during your lifetime, you may avoid having to sell your house and you can use your savings, or the rent you receive, to top up into a better Home.
Finally obtain advice from a good and fully independent financial adviser, with the Long Term Care qualification, on the best way to fund your care. There are products on the market designed to ensure you can stay in the Home you have chosen for the rest of your life, so you won’t have to move to a cheaper home when your money runs out.
Local Authority Funding
The rules are very complicated! Remember it’s only you being means tested. Split joint accounts and investments. Some assets are outside the means test. There may be scope to protect assets in the future especially if one of you is frailer than the other. A couple of hours of Gillian’s time reviewing your personal circumstances may pay for itself many times over.
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