Paying too much for care?

The statistics on funding long-term care make for grim reading. The average annual cost of a care home exceeds the average annual wage, whilst SAGA estimated in 2009 that the cost of a four year stay in a care home would reach almost £225,000 by 2028. It has been reported that 20,000 people had to sell their homes last year to fund the cost of care.

The care system and the rules regarding the extent to which either the Local Authority or NHS are obliged to contribute towards payment of care fees are incredibly complex. A survey by the charity Counsel & Care found that only 5% of people interviewed found the system easy to navigate.

Given the above it is perhaps surprising that more people do not seek advice regarding the funding of care. Obtaining advice can result, in some situations, in savings amounting to tens of thousands of pounds per year.

It is notable that proportionally less people have their care funded, in full, by the NHS in South West Essex than in many other areas, notwithstanding the existence of national criteria. Anyone with severe mental and/or physical health needs should consider whether or not to pursue such funding, even if the NHS have indicated that they do not qualify. For those not entitled to NHS funding, Local Authority calculations regarding the extent to which they are obliged to contribute towards care fees should be checked carefully.

Those seeking one of the comparatively small number of lawyers offering advice in this area should contact Solicitors for the Elderly, a national organisation of lawyers specialising in advising the older client.

This article was written by Lee McClellan, Partner at Palmers Solicitors.

March 2011