The cost of care can be a minefield if you aren’t familiar with the social care system, with many different aspects to consider paying for care can be a confusing time for many. Whilst the care system isn’t one of the easiest to understand initially, seeking advice on the cost of care and how to pay for care will help you to understand where you stand before you get your wallet out.

Care is a live changing decision for both the patient and family members and ensuring you have a good understanding of the system is essential before making any decisions. To help you understand the cost of care further we’ve put together what you need to know about paying for care to help guide your final decision.

The Cost of Care

Many people often confuse social care with healthcare services such as the NHS and think that social care is free, however it’s actually means tested. Dependent upon your income, wealth or other assets you may be required to pay for the full amount of care you receive or need to provide a partial payment. The remaining balance is then paid by your local council.

If you think you need care then you can apply for an assessment of your needs which will be conducted by your local authority, if they believe you are eligible they will then go on to assess your finances. At present, the cost of care is capped if you have more than £23,250 in savings or other assets such as property. In 2020 the cost of care will be capped at £72,000 for those over 65. If you choose to fund your care through the council many are often left with long wait times to receive care, leaving some to choose to fund care themselves.

Many often believe they will have to sell their property if they require care, however this isn’t true and there are other options available to those who need to release equity from their homes. Payment can also be agreed in principle with deferred payments once your property has sold, if you cannot sell your home initially. The value of your home isn’t taken into account if you are planning on receiving homecare or if you have a partner or dependent living in your property, however if you are leaving your home to stay in a care home it is included in the means assessment.

The cost of care is dependent upon a number of factors such as your personal requirements, care needed, location and duration which can all affect the price you pay. Once you have established your care needs you’ll be able to discuss your care options with your care provider.

To an extent a post code lottery exists when it comes to funding care and prices vary across the country. Alongside an ageing population the strain on the care industry is continually rising with a £4 billion shortfall predicted by 2020, financial purse strings are being tightened by the government. This has led many council to provide care to those who require high levels of care with many left to find privatised care options.

What are Direct Payments?

Direct payments are designed to give you greater flexibility in paying for your social care and can help you to have greater control over your finances. Direct payments can be made after a means assessment by your social services authority and can be used in conjunction with council funded care.

If you are entitled for care then you are eligible to apply for direct payment, you can also enlist someone else to manage your finances for you on your behalf if you aren’t fit enough to do so. Direct payments have many benefits and can help a patient live more independently and select the products and services which suit them the most.

Social care isn’t an easy journey for anyone and making sure you equip yourself with as much knowledge about care and payment plans as possible is essential before applying for a needs and means assessment. Understanding care will help you to not only understand where you stand for your future but also for family and friends too.

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