How to fund your long-term care – a beginner’s guide
There are many options for funding long-term care and they can often be complicated to understand. So if you or a loved one need to pay for care at home or in a care home, it’s important to know the facts.
- How much will you need to pay for long-term care?
- NHS continuing healthcare
- Local authority funding for long-term care
- Self-funding your long-term care
- Claim the benefits you’re entitled to
How much will you need to pay for long-term care?
People often have to make quick and difficult decisions about their own or a loved one’s care needs. Thinking about the options in advance will help in the long run.
This all depends on your health and mobility, what level of help and support you need, the value of your savings, assets and income, and what local authority or NHS funding you might be entitled to. .
You could end up paying for all of it, some of it or nothing at all.
NHS continuing healthcare
If you have a disability or complex medical problem, you might qualify for free NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) if you’re an adult, or free NHS continuing care (CC) if you’re under 18.
Not many people know about it, so it’s important to find out if you’re eligible and get an assessment.
This is a package of healthcare that’s arranged and funded by the NHS. It is provided for you at home, or in a hospital, nursing home or hospice.
You’re more likely to qualify if you have mostly healthcare needs rather than social care needs. In other words you need a nurse or medical attention rather than a carer.
If you live in Northern Ireland, Continuing Health Care is provided by your local Health and Social Care Trust.
Local authority funding for long-term care
Your local council (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) may be able to help you with the costs of a care home, or if you prefer, and it’s appropriate, they can help you stay in your own home by providing carers, support for carers, equipment and specialist services.
Exactly how much funding you receive will depend on:
- Your individual needs (based on a care needs assessment)
- How much you can afford to pay towards the costs of care yourself (based on a financial assessment)
- Local authority funding for care costs – do you qualify?
- How a local authority care-needs assessment works
- Means tests for help with care costs – how they work
Your local authority or trust can arrange care services for you or you can choose to receive direct payments and organise things yourself.
Self-funding your long-term care
The biggest fear about funding long-term care is that you’ll be forced to sell your home if you need to move into a care home. Fortunately, if you need care in your own home its value is not counted.
Depending on your circumstances you might not qualify for funding from the NHS or your local authority.
Even if you do, the amount you receive might not be enough to completely cover your care costs either at home or in a care home.
If this happens you’ll need to think about how you’re going to top up any contributions, or if you have to pay for it all yourself.
Claim the benefits you’re entitled to
Even if you have to pay for care you may still be entitled to claim some benefits.
These two benefits aren’t means tested, so you could get them if your health needs are great enough regardless of your income and savings:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability living allowance
- Personal Independence Payment (which is replacing Disability Living Allowance)
There are other benefits that you may also be able to claim depending on your circumstances.