A good starting point is to ring your local council and arrange for a Care Needs Assessment, either for yourself or a relative. Regardless of your ability to pay for the support, your council should conduct an assessment of your care and support needs and should be able to provide you with helpful advice.
They will try and assess the difficulty you may have with certain daily activities that are important in daily life, these include moving around the home, bathing, toileting, dressing or feeding.
You will then have a Financial assessment (or ‘Means Test’) to work out whether the Local authority will contribute to your care costs. This will look at your capital, savings and income. If you have savings or other capital assets (excluding your main home) over £23,250, you are unlikely to get local authority funding for your care and support. If you are deemed eligible for support, you can request a Personal Budget which you can take in the form of a Direct Payment, held directly by you or by a suitable person on your behalf.
There are other routes to getting some financial support which are worth looking into. Attendance Allowance is a tax-free, non-means-tested benefit that is paid to people over state pension age who have a physical or mental disability. Different levels of support can be provided depending on whether care is required during the day or night or during both.
If you are under state pension age, you should be eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which includes payments for both Daily living and Mobility depending on your needs.
You may also wish to apply for Pension Credit (if you are over pension age) or Universal Credit (if you are under Pension age).
NHS Continuing Healthcare is fully funded care, paid for by the NHS. If your needs are ‘primarily health related’ and are deemed to be complex, you may be eligible for this without undergoing any financial assessment. In most cases, you can elect to receive care services in your own home with a carer of your choice. For many people with long-term conditions and disabilities, it may be possible to agree a Personal Health Budget with your local NHS team to support your identified health needs. This would give you the flexibility to spend money on your healthcare and support in a particular way that suits you personally. See our article ‘How Much help can I get from the NHS?’
There are also shorter-term arrangements that can be put in place for up to 6 weeks after leaving hospital. Reablement support can give you the skills and confidence to regain your independence back in your own home. Alternatively, Intermediate Care, with support from Occupational therapists, Physiotherapists, Social workers and Community nurses can give recovery and rehabilitation support back in your own home.
Additional benefits that are available to older people include Winter Fuel Payment, free TV licences for over 75s, public transport reductions, Blue Badge and Shopmobility.
There are also grants available through charities or foundations. You usually need to have applied for all state benefits before applying. See links below.
It can all be a bit overwhelming but there are several really helpful websites that will help you identify benefits that you may be missing or costs that can be cut. Try Age UK’s Benefit’s calculator or consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau. One site that can be valuable in helping to find savings on daily costs is moneysavingexpert.com. For self-funders, you may also find it helpful to get financial and/or legal advice. See our articles ‘Paying for your own Care’ and ‘Wills, Powers of Attorney and Financial Planning’