At Magenta we regularly get asked about the costs of long term care and whether this will need to be privately funded.

Normally these questions come at a highly pressured and emotional time for familes, when the decision of whether or not care is required is no longer a choice, rather has been forced – either by a hospitalisation or the very fast decline in health – of a parent, spouse or family member.

The majority of people we speak to believe that, if they have any savings over £24,000 in Wales (£23,250 in England), that they will have to fund their care fees in full.

It’s important that the family are aware that this may not be the case and that your relative may be eligible for other funding.

Our experience is that usually social services or the care home representative / provider will ask a closed question like “you will be self-funding?” – Rather than “do you know if you will need to self-fund care?”

Whilst, self-funding is likely to be the case for any residential element of care (the ‘hotel’ part), there are many different types of care, ranging from continuing healthcare, dementia care, palliative care, respite and convalescence.

It is really important to understand that – whether or not you pay for care does NOT depend on your money. It depends on your care needs only. It does not matter how much money you do or do not have, it depends on an assessment for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.

Our experience is that it is not standard that an assessment will be offered, unless requested by a family member. So, what can be done?

The following are all broad indications that your relative should be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare, and may help:

  • Your relative is in hospital and needs ongoing care after discharge; at this point they must be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare before being discharged. This is made clear in the Care Act;
  • Your relative has been receiving care for some time – and paying for it themselves – but no one has assessed them for NHS Continuing Healthcare;
  • Your relative is going into a care home or receiving full time care at home and you believe they have a primary health care need;
  • Your relative was previously assessed but denied NHS Continuing Healthcare – but their care needs have now changed and heal deteriorated.

The NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment will cover 12 areas of care to establish whether a primary health care need exists. The following are some examples of these categories: cognition, breathing, behavior, drug therapy and medication control, mobility and psychological and emotional needs.

There is a very important distinction between local authority care and NHS care – the former is means tested, the latter is not. And that distinction does NOT depend on how much money your relative has, but on their specific care needs.

It is very important that an assessment is requested and undertaken as soon as possible – ideally before you pay a penny in care fees.

There is some excellent advice and guidance on this website

There is also this excellent document from the Alzheimer’s Society: when_does_the_nhs_pay_for_care

Please feel free to talk to the team at Magenta about this if the cost of care is or will affect you and/or your family and friends. We look forward to speaking to you.