It comes as a shock to many families when they discover that the elderly must use their own assets to fund paid care. Older family members may not appreciate the necessity of making financial preparation for paid care for themselves. In this situation, the responsibility of arranging care lies with adult children.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown warns, “Covering the cost of care is difficult enough if you’ve planned for it, but if it comes out of the blue, it can be even more challenging.”
Local councils will not help individuals who have more than £23,000 in savings or assets with the cost of their care.
Paid care: are families prepared?
Opinium carried out a survey in April 2021 and found that one in ten people expect that they will have to pay for their parents’ care. Only a third expect that their parents will need paid care. Of these, 45% imagined that their parents had enough in savings, and 30% said their parents would have to sell their homes to pay for care.
Analysing the survey results, Sarah Coles emphasises that families are frequently unprepared for the high costs involved. She described planning to pay for your own parents’ care as “an enormous commitment”. She also acknowledged that some families may face “catastrophic costs” of more than £100,000 over a lifetime.
An expected government cap on how much an individual pays towards their care over their lifetime has not been introduced.
How much does care cost in the UK?
Given the high costs, it is understandable that some families choose to provide care themselves. In fact, the cost of paid care adds to a feeling of guilt about not taking on all the responsibility.
Those who provide care for more than 35 hours per week can claim Carer’s Allowance, which is £67.60 per week. Carers UK has estimated the value of unpaid care provided by women to be £77 billion per year.
Paid care at home
Also known as domiciliary care, visiting carers attend the elderly in their own home. A carer can help with basic tasks like preparing meals, personal care and medication. The cost of visiting care varies by region, but on average, each visit will be around £20 per hour. With two visits every day, this soon mounts up. The advantage of domiciliary care allows the elderly to maintain their independence at home.
A move to a care home, or a nursing home for more complex needs, requires a financial commitment of between £704 and £888 per week, on average. Again, this depends on the area. Most care homes strongly advise families to consult a financial advisor before making arrangements to pay.
Live-in paid care
One way to avoid residential care is to arrange a live-in carer who will meet all of your elderly relative’s care requirements in their own home. This can cost £1,000 per week or more, depending on the agency and whether or not care is required at night.
This is the most expensive form of paid care, and cannot be funded by selling the house. Some families may consider a lifetime mortgage as a way to fund this option.
How to raise funds for paid care
When elderly parents need regular support, you can arrange for a needs assessment through your local council. A social worker will visit and recommend the most appropriate care. A financial assessment follows, which determines whether council funding can help towards the cost of paid care.
Attendance Allowance pays between £60 and £89.60 per week. Most elderly people who need support will be eligible for this non-means-tested benefit. Many retired people are not claiming Pension Credit even though they are entitled to it.
Savings might stretch to cover the cost of paid visiting care at home, or live-in care for a short time.
Obtaining timely and specialist financial advice about pensions and annuities will ensure that paying for domiciliary care doesn’t severely affect the standard of living of elderly parents – or their children.
Sarah Coles of Hargreaves Lansdown suggests that in retirement, some can “live off the income produced by the investments (usually around 4%) without dipping into the lump sum”. This can affect entitlement to help with social care.
Discussions about residential care will involve the possibility of selling property. If residential care is the preferred option, in many cases families sell their parents’ homes.
It’s important to note that if a dependent still lives in the family home, it is disregarded as an asset.
Consult a SOLLA accredited financial advisor about paying for care. Many offer a free initial consultation.
More complicated funding solutions include equity release, immediate needs annuities, NHS Continuing Healthcare, and council deferred payments. A financial advisor can help to navigate through these options.
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