Assessing and considering care options for a relative can be a confusing and daunting process. Often, important decisions involving arrangements for care need to be made at a time of crisis such as following a hospital admission or when their relative’s needs require additional care in order to have their needs met in a safe environment.
Other times, care can be planned well in advance to ensure a smooth and positive transition. Family members often require practical advice and support in identifying the options especially when the requirement is for care for those with complex needs or specific acute health conditions.
Care Legal Options
There are numerous options for care and support, however, which option is right depends on the individual’s specific needs. For example, when arranging care for an elderly or disabled relative, the options usually fall within three categories:
- Home care, sometimes known as ‘domiciliary care’. This is an arrangement where the individual remains living in their own home with support from a care agency
- Live-in-care. This arrangement involves the carers living with the individual in order to meet their needs, usually on a 24-hour basis
- In a care home. This includes either residential care or nursing care
For those individuals who wish to retain some independence, the options may also include;
- Independent living or assisted living schemes
- Social housing with extra support
- Shared lives schemes
The choice of care provision will largely be led by the person’s needs, health, age and their current situation. It is also important to consider what may be needed in the future and whether for example, if you are choosing a care home for a relative with low-level needs, such as early-onset dementia, you will want to ensure that the care home can meet the person’s needs as the condition advances.
Equally, when arranging care to be provided in a person’s own home, the risk of social isolation should be taken into account particularly if they are unable to see friends and family as and when they want or not able to access the community due to their vulnerability.
Local Authority Duties
The local authority should provide practical advice and support to families who are faced with making important decisions regarding how their relative’s needs should be met. This includes considering what actions to take to prevent or delay care needs, providing or arranging services that maximise independence for those already with such needs (for example, the provision of formal care to meet a person’s needs in their own home) or how to plan to meet the cost of future care needs. This information and advice is available to everyone, not just those who are in receipt of local authority funded care or support.
The local authority is also under a duty to arrange for a needs assessment for anyone appearing to have needs for care and support. The outcome of the assessment is to provide a full picture of the individual’s needs so that a local authority can provide an appropriate response at the right time. Once an assessment has been completed and has identified that the individual has care needs, the local authority will have determined whether it will meet the person’s needs. The next step once a person has been identified as having needs for care and support is to undertake a financial assessment to ascertain whether the local authority wishes to charge the person.
Paying for Care
Once it has been decided how the relative’s care needs should be met and an appropriate care provision has been sourced, consideration should be made as to how this will be paid for. This is perhaps the most important consideration after choosing the care provision as careful consideration will need to be made as to whether the chosen option can be viably funded in the long term.
There is a means-tested threshold for financial assistance from the local authority. If the person has more than £23,250 in income and assets (which includes savings and equity in any property that they may own) then they will not be eligible to receive any financial help from the local authority to pay for their care. In this situation, they would be classed as a ‘self-funder’. There are some exceptions where the value of the home is excluded from the means test.
Once the person’s finances have been considered and assessed by the local authority, the information will be given to help the individual understand what they may have to pay, when and why and how it relates to their individual circumstances.
Ways to pay for care
- Through income and assets (for example, pension or housing wealth)
- A deferred payment agreement (this is like a loan from the local authority who will put a charge on the person’s home)
- A financial product
- A combination of the above
Local authorities should facilitate access to an independent source of information or advice where relevant.
It is often the case that friends and family are asked to step in to make financial arrangements for a family member as they have lost the mental capacity to do this themselves. Where possible, it is important that the family member has obtained the correct authority to do this, whether that is by way of an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) or through a deputyship order which is made by the Court of Protection.
Contact our friendly team today for advice on arranging care for a relative today.