Live-in home care is either paid for with the support of the council or privately funded. Most people are expected to make a financial contribution to the care they need when age, illness or injury makes it unsafe to live independently. However, local authority funding may be available. When assessing someone’s eligibility, their care needs, their health and their personal financial status are carefully considered.
If you’re looking to access council care support to fund live-in care, the first step is to contact social services to request a care assessment. They will evaluate your loved one’s care needs. Someone from the local authority will carry out an assessment to check whether the individual has needs for care and support. If personal care needs are confirmed, they will then assess their financial means and check whether they’re eligible for paid assistance.
Who is eligible for care support?
To be eligible for support, someone should struggle with, or be unable to safely manage certain activities that are important for normal daily life. These outcomes could include mobilising, bathing, toileting, dressing or feeding-skills that have a significant impact on wellbeing. Age UK says:
‘If you are assessed as having eligible needs, the local authority have a legal duty to ensure they are met. It can charge you for most services intended to meet this duty.’
Means testing for live-in care
Means testing is a way of assessing someone’s financial assets and their ability to pay for care. Capital including savings together with income from benefits and pensions are all taken into account. At the moment, anyone with assets that exceed £23,250 are required to pay towards care.
For home owners with significant equity in their property, live-in care can offer financial benefits over residential care. That’s because, currently, the home value is not considered as part of the asset valuation for people who are still living at home. In practise, this means that someone may be entitled to monetary support if their other assets are lower than £23,250, even if there is a large amount of capital tied up in the family home. Age UK says:
‘Your ability to pay for care will be worked out through a means test. Your home will not be included if you're arranging care and support at home and may not be included if you live with a partner, child, or a relative who is disabled or over the age of 60.’
Do benefits form part of the means test?
Although most income and benefits are included, not all financial sources are considered as part of the means test. Some benefits are disregarded during local authority means testing. These include:
- Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment mobility components
- Pension Credit Savings Credit
- Income in kind
- Social Fund payments and winter fuel payments
- War widow and widower special payments
- Charitable and voluntary payments, for example payments by a relative
- Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance
- Personal injury trust payments
- Veteran payments under the War Pension Scheme (except the Constant Attendance Allowance element)
- £10 a week of War Widows, War Widower’s or War Disablement pension is not considered
It’s vital that anyone being assessed gets all the benefits to which they're entitled. That’s because the means test will assume that someone receives all their entitlements, even if they’re not being claimed.
Are the assets of partners or spouses considered?
In general, the council will not consider the financial means of a spouse or civil partner, if they’re not also receiving care support. However, joint assets such as shared savings accounts will form part of the assessment, divided equally the owners unless there’s evidence to the contrary.
Government guidance states that the local authority:
‘Has no power to assess couples or civil partners according to their joint resources. Each person must therefore be treated individually’.
When someone is eligible for care and financial support there are different ways of accessing the help. Your loved one should be given a personal budget figure that sets out how much it will cost to meet their needs and how much they are expected to contribute financially.
Care may be provided by council-employed carers or a direct payment of funds may be given to facilitate privately arrange care. This offers a greater level of control and choice. The money can be used to buy care from the provider of your choice, and employ live-in carers that best suit your loved one’s needs.
Some people who are recovering from a serious illness, injury or operation are entitled to intermediate care. This is a package of temporary care that provides rehabilitation, to help them get back on their feet after hospital discharge. The care is time-limited and provided for up to six weeks, however it is free of charge without means testing.
Intermediate care can be provided in the care recipient’s own home. A team of experts provide wide-ranging support, including professional home carers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
NHS continuing healthcare (CHC)
NHS continuing healthcare is a package of care that is fully-funded irrespective of needs. The care is given over an extended period to provide support for people with significant health needs. Eligibility isn’t based on having a particular diagnosis or disease. It is contingent on having ongoing health needs and necessitating care because of these needs.
There is a detailed assessment process to identify people who are eligible for NHS continuing care. This starts with completion of the Continuing Healthcare Checklist.
For people who are eligible, the service will fund the medical care and practical support to ensure they can live in comfort and safety.