In our first article we outlined What Social Care Is? who provides it and how our aging population is affecting the demand for care. This month we explore who’s responsible for paying.
Many people are surprised to learn that social care is not free at the point of use in the way that NHS care is.
As you get older, if you need support with day-to-day tasks in your own home, or if you need to move into a care home, your local authority might help with the costs of care but exactly how much you receive will depend on the level of your care needs and how much you can afford to pay yourself.
With an ageing population in the UK, the pressures on local authorities have become greater whilst at the same time they receive less funding from central government and have had to make cuts to the services they provide including adult social care. To ensure that people with the greatest need receive help, councils have increased the threshold above which someone’s needs are assessed as high enough to be eligible for council funded care. In most council areas this threshold is set at ‘critical’.
Even though the population is getting older and there are more and more people over the age of 65 in the UK, there is less money available for social care. Over the last 10 years, year on year, fewer people aged 65 and over have received social care paid for by their local authority.
As a result more people are having to pay for help from their own or a relative’s income or savings or they simply do not get the help they need.
Many people within independent organisations and charities have been saying for some time that something dramatic needs to change to properly fund social care in this country. No-one has come up with a solution yet and until they do you will need to fund your own care if you have over £23,250 of savings and assets, whatever your level of need. If your savings and assets are lower than this amount then your needs will need to be ‘critical’ to have some or all of your care funded by the local authority.
There is an exception to this; if you needs are primarily health related then you may be able to access NHS Continuing Health Funding. However, the system of determining whether an individual’s needs are primarily health care or social care (referred to as a continuing healthcare assessment) is complicated, time consuming and by no means perfect. It involves representatives of local authorities and the NHS discussing and agreeing the funding for an individual and can have significant consequences for the patient and their family. To find out more visit the Age UK website at https://bit.ly/36iwqMQ.
The next article will look at what kinds of social care are avaliable.
Bluebird Care is a home and live-in care provider based in Kingsclere.