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The care system is changing – are you ready?

Yesterday the Care Act was published, detailing some key changes in the social care system. These have been dubbed some of the biggest changes in the system in the past 60 years, and if you are considering care for yourself or a relative, it’s important you know what the changes are.

Here, we speak to one of our money experts Caroline Laws, to discuss the changes you should be aware of.

1. What does the care needs assessment change mean to carers?

One of the most important changes from 1 April 2015 is that if you are a carer you are now legally entitled to a care needs assessment. This allows you to say what kind of care and support you need from the local authority to look after the people you care for.

You can have this assessment even if your income and savings are over the limit to qualify for financial help. In England and Northern Ireland, this is currently £23,250. In Scotland this is £25,250 and in Wales it is £23,750.

2. What about if you are the one in need of care?

If you are in need of care, you will now be able to say how your condition affects your overall well-being and be involved in the decision around what care and support will make life easier. For example, it could be important to you to stay in your home but you may need extra help to do this.

Your care needs may prevent you from joining in activities, making you socially isolated or unable to take part in training or learning opportunities. This can have a significant impact on your well-being and also affects the kind of help you need.

The local authority must now make its decision on what care to give you based on nationally agreed standards. This should avoid the ‘postcode’ lottery of care that has existed when local authorities have been allowed to make their own decisions about what support they will give.


3. What does the cap on care costs mean to my care?

*Update - 17 July 2015* This cap has now been delayed by the Government until 2020*

You should ask for a care needs assessment now, even if you think you will have to pay for the support, or you’re already getting help that you don’t pay for from a family member or friend.

This is because from April 2016, the costs of any social care you receive will be added up in a ‘care account’ and start to count towards the overall limit that you have to pay for care.

The amount you will pay for care will be capped at £72,000 at the rate set by your council, so the reality is that if the care home charges more than the Local Authority, you could be paying much more. You would also have to pay the additional weekly costs for food and lodging in residential care.

The cap only starts from when you're assessed as having very high needs – critical or substantial, so you might incur costs before that (and they won’t be capped).  

The BBC has created a Care Costs Calculator you may find useful.



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  • Haley / 22 July 2015

    How much of this is relevant beyond England? Very poorly written at times. You should be addressing these important issues rather than food shopping tips but accuracy is important.

  • Esturdy / 20 June 2015

    This is an important topic. Sadly I think section 3 is poorly written or edited as I can't make sense of it.

  • N. Heather / 20 April 2015

    Is there a ball-park figure, please, for the post-£72K cost of board and lodging in residential care? This issue is mentioned so often 'in passing', but more info would be useful and would help a great deal in terms of planning. Obviously this is not easy for you to calculate, but some idea, however vague, would be helpful. Thanks.
    ADMIN: Hello, it's worth trying this calculator from the BBC. It should be able to give you a more accurate average of costs for board and lodging in residential care in your local area.