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Living In a Care Home


Where an individual’s care needs are primarily health care needs, it may be possible that their whole care home costs will be fully funded by the NHS ­ under its free continuing care criteria. Such people should request careful assessment of their needs ­ comparing the results and decisions given with their health authority’s published criteria. Professional guidance in case pursual from a specialising law practice might well need to be considered.

If, however, you move into a nursing home and do not qualify for fully funded NHS continuing care, the ‘nursing’ part of your support is covered by Government funding. The NHS would normally contribute £108.70 per week. People who qualify usually need ongoing specialist medical treatment on a regular basis. Some people will be assessed as not requiring any nursing and will, therefore, get no subsidy. The above applies to England only.

It is important to understand the definition of ‘nursing’
– as being those care needs carried out by a registered NHS nurse, as opposed to those tasks undertaken by a care assistant. There are many anomalies of practice across local authorities – particularly where budget restrictions are in place. Sadly also, many care homes have suffered badly from the very low rates paid by local authorities and they may have seen the nursing subsidy as an opportunity to raise their own income – rather than pass on the whole amount to the resident.

Care home residents will still have to pay for accommodation and personal care, such as help with washing, bathing, dressing and eating. See below for details of possible ‘means tested’ State Support relating to accommodation and personal care.

Scottish readers will find the Alzheimers Scotland web site to be extremely useful reference to that country’s particular welfare, benefits and legal technicalities. Go to

Support from the State

You will only be eligible for accommodation and personal care help from the state (other than for NHS services) if:

  • you have been assessed as needing care by the Social Services department and they have agreed to provide or arrange a service
  • your capital is less than £23,250, including the value of your property, savings and investments. The local authority will disregard the value of your home if it is occupied by your spouse or partner, or by a relative who is incapacitated or over 60. The local authority may also disregard the value of your home if it is occupied by someone who gave up their own home in order to become your carer.

If you have capital over £23,250 you will be expected to pay for all of the cost of accommodation and personal care. You will be expected to make some contribution to the cost if your capital is between £14,250 – £23,250. You should not have to make any contribution from your capital below £14,250, but you will be expected to contribute from your income (less £22.50 retained for personal expenses).

The local authority will assess your financial situation and will calculate your total income, including any Benefits to which you are entitled. It is important to note that local authorities cannot assess the joint recources of couples – they have to look at the income and capital of the person going into the home. You are advised to obtain the excellent Age Concern Factsheet 10, which contains comprehensive guidance as to how split capital/property assets are considered. Tel: 0870 500 99 66.

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Maximising your income

Attendance Allowance

Additional State help towards the cost of care home care may be available in the form of Attendance Allowance. A full description of this benefit is included in this section under Remaining at Home .

Benevolent Funds

Benevolent funds may be available from organisations set up to look after the welfare of individuals who have worked in particular trades or professions, or who have served in the forces. Further information is provided in this section under ‘Staying in Your Own Home’. You could also look in our Benevolent Fund section.

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Using your home to fund accommodation

The normal expectation is that homes will be sold in order to pay for any care in a care home. Being forced into selling your home in order to meet care costs is often a source of great distress to people who are already suffering the loss of independence and control over their own lives. They may also feel that they have nothing of value to hand on to their children after a lifetime of hard work.

The government’s future change of the level of capital before which you are required to pay for your own care is intended to help people retain their homes. The government is also planning a scheme whereby local authorities can ‘lend’ the money for care, taking it back from the sale value of your home – only after your death. In many cases though this might mean that much of the value of the home would eventually be taken by the local authority.

There are, however, ways in which the full value of your home can be preserved, whilst at the same time helping to finance your care – especially if your family can participate or contribute in order to preserve their inheritance.


Renting your home

Your ability to rent your home instead of selling it will depend on several factors:

  • Its suitability – perhaps it needs redecorating or modernising?
  • Its location – is it in an area of high demand for rented housing? Is it close to public transport?
  • What level of rent will it command?

You would be well advised to implement the renting of your property through a reputable, local estate agent having an established ‘lettings’ arm to its business. Take care in agreeing the precise introductory and renewals commission terms with the agent. The agent may be able to provide a ‘standard’ tenancy agreement – or you could construct your own through a solicitor.

For more information about ‘Let to Buy’ and Equity Release plans go to our Financial Planning section

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Long term care insurance

If you intend to pre-fund long term care, an insurance policy may be the best course of action to pursue. You will find detailed information about long term care insurance in our Financial Planning section.

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