An assessment takes into account your needs and your ability to independently carry out activities of daily living without support. Based on this assessment, the authority will consider:
- The level of support you need
- Where, when and how you should receive your care
- The cost associated with the care you need
- Whether you can live safely and independently in your own home
In England, the Care Act 2014 introduced national criteria for eligibility, which came into effect from April 2015.
In Wales, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act introduces similar national rules for deciding who is eligible for care and support, from April 2016.
What this means in practice is if someone’s level of need does not meet the minimum eligibility criteria, they won’t be entitled to any funding from the local authority.
The output of the assessment will include a ‘Care Plan.’ This is a document which explains the identified needs and recommendations of services to meet these needs, such as how many care visits might be needed per day and for how long. This should be created in consultation between you,
any loved ones you want to involve, social services and any other relevant health professionals, with the aim of supporting your health and wellbeing day to day. Depending on the risks observed and your ability to undertake your daily activities, there might be a need to make adaptations to your home. These could be minor home adaptations such as the installation of grab rails. Or might be more extensive, including changes to your bathroom or installation of a chairlift to make your home suitable for your needs and to reduce risk of accidents, such as falls.
If it is agreed that you can no longer live at home safely and independently, you may receive the recommendation to move into a residential or nursing care home.
Tip: While having to move into a care home can be a daunting prospect, you shouldn’t let this prevent you from requesting an assessment. Local authorities are expected to place an individual’s choices, as well as their wellbeing, at the forefront of any recommendation made.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, once the needs assessment has been carried out, the social services team will then need to work out how your care package will be funded. This is known formally as ‘financial assessment.’ They will look at your income and capital (including savings and property) to understand your ability to pay for your care yourself, and from this, how much you will be required to pay.
Personal care is free in Scotland, but there are a range of other social care related costs which are deemed ‘chargeable services’ and they will be assessed to determine how much they can afford to pay towards those costs.
The financial eligibility thresholds (also known as capital limits) are different across the UK. If your total capital exceeds these amounts, you will be required to pay for your own care until the value of your capital depletes to below these levels. The thresholds are:
£23,250 in England and Northern Ireland (2019/20). If your capital is between £14,250 and £23,250, you will have to contribute towards the costs of your care.
- £50,000 in Wales (2019/20).
£28,000 in Scotland (2018/19). Between £17,500 and £28,000 you will have to contribute towards the costs of your care.
References: Age UK, Paying for care and support at home in Wales ; Care Information Scotland
If you own your own home, you choose to and are able to remain safely with care in your home, then the financial assessment will exclude the value of this.
The value of your residential property is disregarded if you live in it. If you have to move into a care home, the value of your home may be included in your financial assessment. However, there are a number of exceptions to this where there may be another resident in your home, including:
- Your spouse
- A close relative who is aged over 60
- An incapacitated relative
- A child who is aged under 18 and who you are legally obliged to support
The value of your home is calculated at its current market value, minus your mortgage or loans you have taken out against your home. If there would
be expenses involved with selling your
home, 10% of its value can be removed
from the final figure. If the care you need is short term or temporary, the value of your home should not be included in the means test that is carried out.
“References:” Age UK, Financial assessment; Age UK, Do I have to sell my home to pay for care?
Topping up or choosing to pay
In some circumstances a third party such as a friend, member of your family or charity might provide a ‘top-up’ if there is a gap between the amount the local authority is willing to pay, and the actual cost of your care.
Tip: You should note that should a relative or friend choose to provide this top- up on your behalf, whilst it isn’t their capital or income that is being assessed, they need to consider the risks associated with this option. If there is a change in their financial situation, or a sudden increase in your care fees, this could result in difficulties with them being able to cover the required top up at some point in the future.
References: Paying for Care, Do I need to fund my care?; Age UK, Financial Assessment