Paying for long term care

Most individuals prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own home, regardless of physical or mental challenges. Community care aims to support this desire, but the level of assistance from local authority social services depends on specific needs and eligibility criteria.

Local authorities establish varying criteria, prompting many older individuals, along with their families and caregivers, to contemplate the option of moving into a care home.

Residential and Nursing Homes

These facilities typically charge on a weekly basis, determined by the care level, location, and amenities. Deciding to move into a care home involves crucial choices, and seeking specialist advice early on can prevent or alleviate potential issues, positioning individuals to plan their care effectively.

Financial Thresholds and Asset Considerations

If assets surpass specified thresholds, individuals may be required to contribute to their care costs. However, certain assets may be disregarded, including personal belongings, life interests in land or trust funds, and certain financial products—emphasising the importance of seeking independent financial advice.

Savings and Income Assessment

Local authorities cannot view the finances of a spouse or partner, but joint accounts can be considered. Means-tested care focuses on the individual's financial situation, with specific income disregarded, such as 50% of an occupational or personal pension, provided the remainder supports the spouse or civil partner.

Treatment of the Family Home

The family home, often a significant asset, may be disregarded under certain circumstances, including temporary care placements, occupation by specific individuals, or if a relative meets specific criteria. Local authorities have discretion regarding the family home's value, considering factors like residency and caregiving arrangements.

Deferred Payments and Care Funding

In cases where selling the family home is challenging, a deferred payment scheme secured against the property may be arranged. This involves a charge against the property for care fees. The scheme is applicable after 12 weeks in a care home, during which the local authority assists with funding and disregards the property's value.

Short-Term Stays and 'Top-Up' Fees

The deferred payment scheme does not cover short-term stays, but individuals can use the home's value to 'top-up' care fees. This occurs when the local authority offers a care home that is not the preferred choice, and the individual covers the difference in fees.

Deliberate Deprivation of Capital or Income

Some may consider gifting assets to avoid care fees, assuming a 'seven-year rule' akin to inheritance tax. However, local authorities can consider such assets as 'notional capital' in financial assessments, irrespective of any time frame.

Consulting Specialist Long-Term Care Solicitors

In challenging times, specialist care solicitors can provide crucial assistance. These professionals help navigate the complex care system, ensuring the best outcomes for individuals and their families during this stressful period.

Understanding the financial aspects of long-term care is pivotal in making informed decisions. Seeking professional advice early on can alleviate challenges, ensuring a secure and well-planned future for individuals and their families.


Heledd Wyn

Partner specialising in private client and long-term care at Shakespeare Martineau

Heledd is based in Bristol and has a great deal of experience across a range of future planning, private wealth and Court of Protection work.
Heledd is well known for her expertise in long-term and elderly care matters. Her knowledge of navigating the legal aspects of the care system, particularly the funding of care and challenging the decisions made by local authority assessments, make her invaluable to those dealing with care planning for themselves, or their loved ones. She has particular experience in dealing with NHS Continuing Health Care funding and Court of Protection applications.
About Shakespeare Martineau
Providing legal advice for life and business, the firm’s purpose is clear: to unlock potential.      
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