As our population lives longer it is inevitable that many of us will need support in our old age. But common questions are often “how much will homecare cost?” or “what do residential and nursing homes cost?” and whether the local council will help towards homecare cost.
Help with care is means-tested in England
If you are assessed as needing help by the council the amount of wealth you have will determine how much you pay towards the costs. Only those with the highest needs and least money will be eligible for council-funded care. Even then you may still have to make a contribution. In total, of the four million people over 65 who are estimated to have care needs, only around 850,000 qualify for state help. In East Sussex four in ten people pay for their own care.
Information and advice is always free and even if you don’t qualify for help, you can ask for an assessment of your needs. The assessment will take place in your home, usually by an occupational therapist, social worker or nurse. They will explore any issues you have with your everyday activities such as washing, dressing, managing your toilet needs and living safely at home. They should take into account your emotional and social needs, as well as physical difficulties you may have.
The next stage is the financial assessment, when the council looks at your savings and any income you have. It won’t take into account the value of your home – although a second property does count as savings. If you have assets of £23,250 or more you pay all the costs of your care. If you have less then you may get some help depending on your income. Savings, investments and income are assessed, along with the value of your home – unless you or a close relative live there. You will be allowed to keep £14,250 of assets.
More further information regarding what you will need to pay towards your care and support in East Sussex can be found on the Council’s website
How will ‘Dementia tax’ effect me?
During the recent General Election the Conservative Party Manifesto set out plans for more pensioners to contribute to the cost of their care through ‘dementia tax’. Currently if an older person has dementia and only needs care at home from ‘domiciliary care’ – rather than in a care home – they will not be forced to sell their property. The new proposal would mean those receiving home care would have to pay towards it and the value of their home would be included in their assets. However, the proposal received a significant backlash and during the Queen’s Speech in June there was no specific mention of the ‘dementia tax’ and simply a promise to “work with partners at all levels” and to “consult on options to encourage a wider debate.
Homecare cost in East Sussex
East Sussex has a booming older population and the third highest concentration of over 50’s in England. For many of us the time will come when we need some extra help and most would prefer to stay in their own home if possible. Here are some of the options:
Using an agency
A homecare ‘domiciliary’ agency provides personal care such as assistance with bathing, dressing, eating and medication; day-to-day housework, shopping, meal preparation and household duties; and companionship services. An article in the Guardian found that prices start at around £18 an hour but rise to £22+ at weekends, and as much as £45 an hour on bank holidays.
Ian Cottrell of Home Instead’s Eastbourne and Hailsham branch told The Guardian: “Our visits to clients are always at least an hour, often more, because we believe that good-quality, companionship-based care can’t be delivered in less. We aim to meet the ‘mum test’ – care we would want our own family and loved ones to receive.”
For more complex nursing care services costs are approximately £40 per hour for weekdays raising to £44 at the weekend. Prestige Nursing+Care who operate in East Sussex said it is difficult to give an exact cost for 24-hour live-in care as every client’s needs are unique but that its costs typically start from £1,500 per week.
Using a personal assistant
These will offer all you would get from an agency worker, but are cheaper and you also get continuity, familiarity and an ongoing relationship. However, if you employ a personal assistant (PA), you then have the legal responsibility of an employer. This will include arranging cover for when they are ill or on holiday. The average cost of a PA is around £10-£15 an hour.
Self-funding a care home is quite common, and around two-fifths of places in independent care homes are funded by private individuals. Research by Knight Frank for the 2015-16 financial year (2016 Care homes trading performance review, published October 2016) indicated that the average weekly fee for a nursing home in the South East was £897. Residential care home fees are consistently lower to match the lower level of care that is given. In 2015-16, the UK average weekly fee for a care home that provides personal care in South East was £727.
This is a quick and simple way of getting help at the press of a button if you have an accident or emergency in your home. You may be unable to get to the phone, for instance after falling or because you feel ill. The contact centre provides a 24-hour, 365-day monitoring service that will contact a nominated person or the emergency services on your behalf. This gives you the freedom to live your life independently knowing that you can obtain assistance when you need it. Cost of these services start from around £3.50 per week.
Equipment ranges from relatively simple items, such as walking sticks, crutches and walking frames to aid mobility, to complex equipment like beds, hoists and pressure care equipment. You can choose to hire or buy the equipment from a supplier, and costs vary depending on the complexity of the item but typically to buy starts from £10 for a grabber to £50 for a lightweight walking frame to £995 for a basic stairlift.
- Society of Later Life Advisors provides specialist advice for older people looking to fund care
- East Sussex County Council’s Support With Confidence is a database of approved care providers
- Which! Elderly Care Guide
- The Guardian: Paying for care at home: how to negotiate the minefield
- BBC: What’s the cost of care in your area