Do I need to fund my own care?
In the UK, social care is not like medical care. Medical care provided by the NHS is free at the point of need, whereas social care is means tested.
What this means in terms of social care is that you may have to pay some or all of your care costs, subject to:
- eligibility criteria - assessed by Local Authorities under the Care Act 2014 and
- your wealth, made up of your income and assets such as savings, property and shares.
To determine if you are a self-funder or if the state will help pay all or part of your care costs you should initially contact your Local Authority to have your care needs assessed. They will carry out an assessment under Section 9 of the Care Act 2014. Your care assessment will determine the level of care required, what your care package should be and where the most appropriate place for receiving the care is. This will be either in your own home or in a residential setting such as sheltered accommodation or a care home.
Following your care assessment, the Local Authority will determine their cost for the care required then carry out a means test to assess your ability to pay for, or contribute to, the cost by reviewing your income and assets.
The means test
Broadly speaking, if you have combined assets worth more than £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland, £25,250 in Scotland or £23,750 in Wales*, then you are unlikely to receive funding for your social care.
If you’re a home owner, your home will be excluded from the means test if certain people will continue to live there:
- You (the care recipient) and or your husband, wife, partner or civil partner
- A close relative who is 60 or over, or incapacitated
- A close relative under the age of 16 who you’re legally liable to support
- Your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-civil partner or ex-partner if they are a lone parent
You may still be eligible for other non means tested state benefits. Click here to find out what benefits you could get and how to claim them.
* From April 2017 this limit will rise to £30,000 in Wales and is expected to rise further in the future.
Anyone can, of course, arrange and pay for their own care. The costs will depend on how much care you receive and where you live. It is always advisable to get a care needs assessment even if you know that you are going to pay for your own care.
If you are meeting the cost of care yourself or within the family, we strongly recommend you get specialist care fees advice from a qualified and experienced adviser.
A specialist care fees adviser will:
- Be able to discuss the best ways to protect your assets
- Look at how to ensure that your money lasts for as long as is needed
- Let you know about products specifically designed to help with paying care costs.