If your relative is not found eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare or Nursing Care Contribution then they will be liable to fund the cost of their care.
If your relative has to enter a residential or nursing home, it is a stressful situation for the family. You may be worried about how they are going to meet the cost of their care. You should be aware that before any discussions take place about your relative’s financial situation, the NHS are under a duty to complete a NHS Continuing Healthcare Checklist to ascertain whether the primary need for them entering care is a health need.
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When Local Authorities arrange to place a person in a care home, they have to apply a means test to determine how much they should be paying for their care. The different ways to fund care are;
- Means test
- Registered nursing care – Contribution from the NHS
- NHS continuing healthcare – NHS fund the entire cost of care
- Mental health aftercare services – Free of charge
- Self-funding – If after the means test a person is deemed to be over the threshold for Local Authority contribution.
On this page we look at the means test to determine how much, if any, the Local Authority should contribute towards the care. It will also detail what should not be taken into account when calculating someone’s assets.
When calculating the weekly amount payable by a resident, the Local Authority must assume that the resident will require a certain amount of money for personal requirements. This is known as personal expenses allowance and the amount is determined by regulations – it is currently £24.40 per week. This amount should not be used towards paying care fees.
A temporary resident is a person whose stay is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks. For the first eight weeks of a temporary stay, the Local Authority has discretion whether to limit what it charges. Following eight weeks, the Local Authority have to apply the statutory charging procedure, subject to a small number of rules relating to ‘temporary accommodation’.
When determining the assets for a resident who is likely to be temporary, the Local Authority must disregard certain assets including the person’s home, and reasonable home commitments.
If a person has a care home placement made as part of intermediate care, it must be free of charge for up to six weeks.
When assessing a person’s assets, capital and income are taken into account. If a person has over the upper threshold (currently £23,250) then they will automatically pay for the whole amount no and will not receive financial support from the Local Authority and there is no need to assess income.
There is also a lower threshold (currently £14,250) and if a person’s assets fall between the lower and upper threshold, any capital over the lower threshold is deemed to produce a weekly tariff income of £1 for every £250.
There is no guidance within the statute law but capital includes buildings, lands, bonds, stocks, shares, bank accounts, trust funds and more. These assets are valued at the current market value minus any outstanding debts secured on the asset, such as a mortgage.
Certain capital is disregarded when assessing a person’s assets. The most important include personal possessions such as paintings or jewellery, personal injury payment but there is an exceptionally long list.
During the first 12 weeks of a permanent resident’s stay, the value of his or her main home should be disregarded. There are further in-depth rules about property disregard, please see our separate page.
If a person is going to enter a care home and they buy a painting worth £150,000 the day before, the Local Authority could argue that person is deliberately depriving their capital that would have paid for their care fees.
If this is the case, the Local Authority can attempt to recover the amount. This is only if the deprivation took place less than six months before the person was placed in the care home by the Local Authority.
It is not uncommon for the Local Authority to ignore their duties as detailed above. Often, the property will be taken into account for the first 12 weeks of care and usually this is the most valued asset. If you believe that the Local Authority have incorrectly completed their means test resulting in you paying more care fees then you should have please contact us today and we would be more than happy to help.
Residential Care Fee Experts
My name is Micaila Williams and I am a lawyer who specialises in Residential Care Fees.
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