A great many considerations need to be given to the growing need for providing Long Term Care to the elderly. In the United Kingdom we are set for an explosion in the number of the population reaching their retirement over the next ten years. Because of the advances to medical science an increasing number of these retirees can expect to live many more years than their parents or grandparents.
Because we can expect to live longer there is a greater risk that we will need some form of elderly care in our later years. Traditionally UK long term care was provided by the family and community that they live in, however modern day living now means that families are more widely spread from a geographic point of view and their children may hold down full time jobs. This makes the provision of long term care for an elderly relative much more difficult.
If long term care cannot be managed within the family unit options then need to be considered to provide care that is needed. Long Term Care can be provided in a number of settings which include:-
- Domiciliary Care – this is long term care that would be provided within our own home. It may just be for a couple of hours each day to perhaps to help you get up in the morning and prepare meals the again to put you to bed at night. This type of care can easily be adjusted to cater to increased care needs when required. An example of this may be extra help at home following a stay in hospital to assist with your convalescence. Whilst this type of care may be the preferred option for most as it allows them to stay in their own home in reality the more dependent a person becomes the more prohibitive the costs would be.
- Residential Care Home – Once long term care is required round the clock it is more cost effective for the care to be provided within a residential setting. The cost of this care will also include the cost of accommodation. There are two categories of residential home, those with nursing care and those without. Someone who has high dependency due to their medical conditions would need to be cared for within a nursing home. The average cost of care in a residential home is £25,000 per annum compared to £35,000 for long term care in a nursing environment.
The next stage is to establish how the recommended care will be paid for. Some services may be paid for by the local authority, however for those who are assessed as having assets above the upper means test limit the reality is that they can expect to pay for the full level of long term care required. The upper means test limit is currently set at a level of £23,250 for the tax year 2012/2013. There is however an exception to this – If the care is required primarily due to the health of the individual a further assessment will be carried out by your local Primary Healthcare Trust (PCT). If you pass this assessment for needing nursing care then this will be provided free of charge. This is known as fully funded or continuing healthcare from the NHS. NHS continuing healthcare can be provided in the location of choice which may be in your own home or in a residential nursing home. Other benefits that can assist with the cost of your long term care can include:-
- Attendance Allowance – this benefit is payable to those aged 65 and over who require either care during the day or care at night which would qualify for payment of the lower rate which is currently £51.85 per week. If long term care is required both day and night then you would qualify for the higher rate of £77.45 per week.
- Registered Nursing Care Contribution – If you have to pay for all or part of your care fees and you are in receipt of care from a registered nurse or doctor you may be entitled to a contribution towards the cost of this care. The current standard rate is £108.70 per week. As this is usually paid directly to the nursing home it is important to establish if the fees quoted by the nursing home include or exclude this benefit from the fees quoted.
It follows that the most important stage of the planning process should be to seek specialist financial advice. A suitably experienced adviser can assess your position and likely impact that care could make on your financial situation. This would include knowledge of the benefits system, how the financial assessment would impact upon the assets that you own and also give advice on specialist Long Term Care Plans designed to pay an income to your care provider for the rest of your life.
To speak to a SOLLA accredited long term care adviser call Jennie Gray on Freephone 0800 678 5139 today.