A smiling carer chats with an elderly lady

The Care Act 2014: the cost of care

Anyone who needs long term care is required to pay for that care, unless they fall within one of the limited ‘exceptions’ (such as NHS Continuing Health Care funding). The Care Act provides a single legal framework for charging for care and the assessment of assets that will need to be taken into account.

Currently, an individual who has capital in excess of £23,250 will pay for all of their care in full, until the level of capital has fallen to £14,250. At that point, the individual requiring care will pay £1 for every £250 of their capital – known as ‘tariff income’.

The fees charged by care homes can vary widely, depending on the area of the country and type of care home, and the options available may depend on availability, facilities and of course fees. According to Paying for Care, care home costs are, on average, £28,500 per year for a residential care home, or £37,500 per year if nursing is required. This is an important consideration for those requiring care as they may need to stay in a care home for some years. A research paper prepared by the LSE in 2011 “Length of stay in care homes” found that “around 27% of people lived for more than three years” in care.

It is therefore important that the individual’s assets are properly assessed to ensure that they are paying the correct amount for care. The local authority will carry out an assessment and will need to take into account all the needs of the individual. They will also consider whether there has been any deliberate deprivation of assets – such as giving away a considerable sum of money just prior to needing care, with a clear view to avoiding paying privately for care.

Once an assessment has taken place, the local authority must ensure that the individual needing care is given a genuine choice about available care which is within the budget of that individual. Importantly, the individual has an option to pay a ‘third party top up’ to secure a care home that is more expensive than that which is recommended by the local authority. Whichever option is taken, the local authority must be satisfied that the arrangements are affordable and sustainable.

Paying for care will be a reality for an increasing number of people and the cost of this should not be underestimated.

For further information please contact Anthony Fairweather.