In the UK, there are three ways that you can access a nursing home, financially speaking. If you are fairly well-to-do with a healthy pension and enough investments to completely fund your own way, you can choose to live in your own home with a carer or companion, or you can choose a high-end nursing home and pay your own rental, nursing and care fees. At the other end of the spectrum, if you have less than £23,250 in savings and do not own your house, the government will take care of the costs of your nursing home. However, you will have little choice in which nursing home you are sent to and the standard of your care, while satisfactory, may not be to your personal tastes. In between these two extremes, is the situation in which most older people find themselves when the time comes to consider the cost of a nursing home.
If you have more than £23,250 in savings and assets or if you own your home, you will be expected to cover all or some of your nursing home expenses. If you have some savings or income, but not enough to pay your own costs in full, your local authority will undertake a financial assessment and come up with a reasonable amount that you will be expected to contribute towards your upkeep.
The financial assessment will also take into your specific healthcare needs – for example, if you need to go into a nursing home because you have complex care needs, are suffering from dementia or have severe mobility issues and need help getting into and out of bed and using bathrooms, this will be largely covered by the NHS’s continuing healthcare (NHS CHC) provision. Lesser healthcare issues will, likewise, be taken in account and will reflect in the portion for which you are expected to pay.
Whatever your circumstances and even if your nursing home provides for all your needs, you will still have a little money to call your own, even if you are entirely reliant on government funding. At present, this sum is £24.90 per week minimum, and councils may increase it at their discretion and depending on your personal circumstances. This means, whatever financial plan is put into place, you will be able to buy extra toiletries, small treats and spoil your grandchildren on their birthdays, for example.
If you own your home but have little in the way of other assets or savings, you may need to sell your home to fund your care. This will only happen if by your moving into the nursing home the property will otherwise be left empty – your partner will not have to vacate your previously shared home! Do not fret that you will be rushed into selling your home: the nursing home and local authority must ignore your home for the first twelve weeks of your care, which gives you time to consider all your options. During this time, if your other assets and savings are worth less than £23,250, you may qualify for funding to cover your food, board and care.
Having to move out of your independent home and rely on nursing home staff for your needs can be a stressful time. Make sure you know all the ins and outs of what lies ahead, so there are no nasty financial surprises when the time does finally come.