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Planning for the care of a loved one

Date: 27 May 2022

Planning for the care of a loved one can be a big decision to make, and often a difficult one too. While it may be what is best for your loved one, it can be challenging for you and your family. Aside from the emotional challenges that come with dealing with a loved one in need of care, there can also be reams of practical and financial difficulties too.

Rosie Hooper, chartered financial planner at Quilter provides insight on how best to navigate the care system to ensure you have the best possible support in place for you and your loved one:

“If you are planning for the care of a loved one, it is important that you arm yourself with as much knowledge on the subject as possible, as it will no doubt help you in the long run.

“Many people are aware that the current social care system is means tested so anyone whose assets exceed £23,250 pays for their social care needs. However, what is less well known is the other benefits that are available. Ensuring you properly understand the very complex funding rules on home help, day care and residential care can make a real difference.

“These rules include:

  • NHS continuing healthcare: Some people will long-term complex health needs qualify for free social care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. This is known as NHS continuing healthcare.
  • NHS-funded nursing care: The standard rate currently provides £187.60 per week, paid directly to the care home, for anyone who has been assessed as needing care from a registered nurse or a care home registered to provide nursing care;
  • Attendance allowance: This is for anyone over 65 who needs help with personal care, but the amount a person gets depends on need, with the higher allowance at £92.40 a week and the lower rate at £61.85;
  • Carer’s allowance: A benefit worth £69.70 per week that can be paid to carers who spend at least 35 hours per week looking after or supervising someone;
  • Discount on council tax: Some people who have disabilities or are severely mentally impaired may be eligible for a discount on their council tax bill and sometimes those who care for them are eligible too.
  • Carer’s Credit: A National Insurance credit that helps fill gaps in your National Insurance record. Your State Pension is based on your National Insurance record, so this allows you to take on caring responsibilities without affecting your ability to qualify for the State Pension.
  • Carer’s assessment: If you care for someone, you can have an assessment to see what might help make your life easier. A carer’s assessment is free and anyone over the age of eighteen who cares for someone can ask for one.

“Some people with long-term complex health needs can benefit from NHS continuing healthcare, which is a package of care for people who are assessed as having significant ongoing healthcare needs that is arranged and funded by the NHS. If you qualify, the NHS pay for care home fees, or if you are staying in your home, they cover the cost of the support you need.

“However, the assessment process is far from easy and families and their loved one receiving the care will be required to undertake regular reviews to assess the need for funding. Understanding the rules is very important as the system is complex and often difficult to navigate.

“The current social care system is flawed, and while the government has acknowledged this and set out its new plan for adult social care reform in England in September 2021, the bulk of the changes will not be in place until October 2023. This includes the new £86,000 cap on lifetime social care spending. As such, for the time being if you are a carer, it is important to do your research to ensure you make full use of the support available, and ask for help if you feel you need it.

“Ultimately the best advice is to get advice. If possible, seek advice from a financial adviser that holds suitable qualifications in long term care and later life planning, as they will be used to negotiating the complexities and can be a real pillar of support at what can be a difficult time.”

For more information on the financial support available to carers, visit the government’s Help for Carers webpage.